Washington, Feb 21 — A study combining genetic data with brain imaging has not only identified the APOE gene, tied to the development of Alzheimer’s, but has uncovered its link with another gene, called BCHE.
The enzyme coded by the BCHE gene has previously been studied in post-mortem brain tissue and is known to be found in plaques (deposits), which cause Alzheimer’s.
These findings, based on PET scans of 555 participants in the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, could open the way to more effective drugs for Alzheimer’s or slow, reverse or even prevent the disease, the journal Molecular Psychiatry reports.
Amyloid plaque deposits build up abnormally in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients and are believed to play an important role in memory loss and other problems that plague patients.
“The findings could recharge research efforts studying the molecular pathways contributing to amyloid deposits in the brain as Alzheimer’s disease develops and affects learning and memory,” said Vijay K. Ramanan, study co-author and doctoral student from Indiana University School of Medicine.
The BCHE gene finding “brings together two of the major hypotheses about the development of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Andrew J. Saykin, professor of radiology and imaging sciences at Indiana and principal investigator for the genetics core of the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative.
“This study is connecting two of the biggest Alzheimer’s dots,” said Saykin, director of the Indiana Alzheimer Disease Centre, according to an Indiana statement.