9 December 2023
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Diseases that run in families usually have genetic causes. Some are genetic mutations that directly cause the disease if inherited. Others are risk genes that affect the body in a way that increases the chance someone will develop the disease. In Alzheimer’s disease, genetic mutations in any of three specific genes can cause the disease, and other risk genes either increase or decrease the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

Some genetic mutations or variants interact with other genetic alterations that lead to Alzheimer’s disease. In some cases, gene alterations can interact with Alzheimer’s-causing genetic variants in a way that proves beneficial; they actually suppress the pathological brain changes the other mutations would normally lead to. These protective gene variants can drastically slow or prevent cognitive decline. In two recent case reports on familial Alzheimer’s disease, mutations delayed Alzheimer’s symptoms for decades.

I am a neurologist and neuroscientist who has spent my career studying Alzheimer’s disease and dementia both in the laboratory and in the clinic. Determining how genes affect brain chemistry is vital to understanding how Alzheimer’s disease progresses and devising interventions to prevent or delay cognitive decline.

The amyloid hypothesis

In the early 1990s, scientists proposed the amyloid hypothesis to explain how Alzheimer’s disease develops. The first neuropathological changes detected in the brain of Alzheimer’s disease patients were the formation…

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Abdul Gh Lone