Early Alzheimer's clues found

AlzheimerHow mutations in a gene long known to be associated with early-onset Alzheimer's disease cause the brain disorder have been found out by researchers.

Researcher Ralph Nixon, MD, PhD, professor of psychiatry and cell biology at the New York University Langone Medical Center and director of the Center for Dementia Research at the Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, said, ''We think we have the principal mechanism by how the gene is affected and causes the early onset of Alzheimer's."

These findings can result in not only treating the early-onset Alzheimer's but also the more common form that occurs later in life.

Mutations in a gene called presenilin 1were found 15 years ago. This can also affect people as young as in their 30s. But till date no one has been able to figure out how the genetic mutation led to the disease.

Nixon and his colleagues after studying mouse models of Alzheimer's disease and the skin cells of early-onset Alzheimer's patients linked with presenilin 1 mutations found that a crucial function is performed by the gene that makes cells digest unwanted protein.

They found that the gene normally performs a crucial function that enables cells to digest unwanted proteins.

Experts have also stated that these findings might not result in immediate benefit to Alzheimer's patients but may eventually prove useful in terms of treatment.