New breakthrough in Alzheimer's research

A new breakthrough has been made in the research into Alzheimer's. Scientists have discovered three new genes that play a role in the production of a protein which destroys brains of Alzheimer patients.
Alzheimer's is a brain-wasting disease. The discovery of three major genetic links to the disease is very important and the most significant discovery in years. It will help
Two large studies found that the three new genes join the better-known APOE4 gene as significant risk factors for the most common cause of dementia.

The new discovery will make it much easier to predict who will develop dementia at a later age. In time, medicines can be developed which will help inhibit the disease, explains Dr Van Broeckhoven (photo).

"Dementia is a very complex disease, just like the brain is a complex organ. The aim is to slow the disease down in the first phase, maybe by some 5 years for example. This will cut the number of patients by half," explains Dr. Van Broeckhoven.

The disease slowly destroys the brain cells

Alzheimer's is a brain-wasting disease which affects 70 percent of all patients with dementia.

It slowly, step by step, destroys the brain cells in the deepest parts of the brain. It causes memory and knowledge loss. Since the disease was first 'discovered', by Alois Alzheimer 100 years ago, scientists have been fervently looking for medicine to treat the disease.

In Belgium there are an estimated 165,000 people who suffer from dementia. Worldwide there are some 30 million people who suffer from dementia. Experts say that this could possibly double within the next 20 years.

Christine Van Broeckhoven is internationally renowned for dementia research

Christine Van Broeckhoven is a molecular biologist and professor in Molecular genetic at the University of Antwerp. She is also head of the VIB Department of Molecular Genetics at the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology.