The results of a study, jointly carried out at the Imperial College London and Oxford University, are seen as paving the way for science to be able to predict which people go on to suffer from Alzheimer’s in later life.
Researchers examined a group of individuals aged twenty years and above.
The APOE4 gene in humans has been shown to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s and data was obtained by a mixed group of test subjects. Although not all holders of this gene actually develop the Alzheimer’s disease.
The data shows, described Dr Christian Beckmann, that APOE4 carriers have brains that remain active, in particular the part, which is used for memory. There was a note difference between the different groups observed in the study.
This would seem to suggest that Alzheimer’s, simply put, is purely the result of worn out brain function. A spokesperson from Alzheimers Research, Rebecca Wood, believes it is an exiting discovery in this field, although the disease is very complicated and involves both environmental and genetic factors.
In the UK alone Alzheimer’s and similar dementia conditions affect almost three quarters of a million people every year, at a huge cost to the health service. The ability to prevent members of the population getting this devastating illness would be a major break through.
As with most serious diseases, a healthy diet and regular exercise are an advantage to avoid the risks. However if the APOE4 carriers are known to have a greater chance from it than others screening procedure could ultimately save lives.