A mutation in gene ABCA7 leads to an increased risk for Alzheimer’s in African Americans. (Google Images)

Janice Lloyd of USA Today is reporting that a new gene mutation has been found that increases African Americans’ risks for Alzheimer’s disease. While there are no methods of preventing or curing Alzheimer’s, the discovery of the mutation in gene ABCA7 could lead to better understanding of and treatment for causes of dementia.

Lloyd writes:

“The first thing this tells us is there are probably many different ways to get Alzheimer’s,” says the study’s senior author, Richard Mayeux, chair of the department of neurology at Columbia University Medical Center, New York. “It might be like some forms of cancer where the type of cancer you have dictates the type of treatment you receive.”

The ABCA7 gene is involved in producing cholesterol and lipids, suggesting they may be a more important pathway in Alzheimer’s disease in blacks than in whites, the authors say. High cholesterol and lipid levels can lead to vascular disease, heart attacks and strokes and are more common in blacks. Treatments that lower cholesterol and lipids may potentially be an effective way to reduce or delay Alzheimer’s in patients with the gene variant, Mayeux says.

A variant, or mutation, is an abnormal change in the sequence of the chemicals inside a gene. Whites with the ABCA7 mutation are also at increased risk, but not as significantly as blacks, he adds.

Read more at USA Today.

This news brief was written by Kaitlin Higgins, editorial assistant for The Burton Wire.

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