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Welsh researchers investigate link between genetics and early-onset Alzheimer's

Welsh researchers investigate link between genetics and early-onset Alzheimer's
24th February 2014

Researchers from Cardiff University are set to take part of in the largest ever study of genetics and their effect on early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

Led by professor Julie Williams, the chief scientific adviser for Wales, the project is to receive £388,920 in funding from the charity Alzheimer's Research UK and Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation.

It will look at the DNA of 2,400 people from around the world and search for rare genetic variants which can lead to early-onset Alzheimer's.

The Welsh team will collaborate with scientists from across Europe, the US and Australia to compare results and see if environmental factors also influence the risk of being diagnosed with the cognitive condition.

On top of the funding provided in the UK, the project has already received €3.1 million from the EU Joint Programme - Neurodegenerative Disease Research (JPND) through the Medical Research Council (MRC).

Professor Williams said: "By searching for rare genetic variants we hope to uncover new information about biological processes that influence our risk of developing Alzheimer's.

"Current treatments for Alzheimer's can help with the symptoms but do not affect the course of the disease  - we hope our research will inform efforts to develop more effective treatments to tackle the disease."

Dr Eric Karran, director of research at Alzheimer's Research, said the charity is proud to be supporting such an important study as it will bring together differing disciplines and expertise from around the world.

He believes a person's risk of developing Alzheimer's is linked to a "complex mix" of environmental and genetic factors and research such as this has the potential of unlocking root causes.

An estimated 820,000 people are currently living with some form of dementia in the UK and around 500,000 of that number have Alzheimer's disease.

Early-onset Alzheimer's is where the condition affects people under the age of 65.

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