While we can't yet cure the neurodegenerative diseases of later life, the prospect of finding those who may be genetically disposed toward such conditions may be of enormous importance for individual and family planning and decision-making, and perhaps eventually, lifestyle changes or therapies that may mitigate or even prevent disease. The Alzheimer's Disease Genetics Consortium (ADGC) under director Gerard Schellenberg, PhD, addressed some of these issues for some populations, with the confirmation that the Alzheimer gene ABCA7 increases by twofold the risk of late-onset AD among African Americans.
Just a few years ago, only four genes associated with Alzheimer's disease had been identified. Now, that number has quintupled, largely through the efforts of the ADGC, which is a collaboration of 44 universities and research institutions within the United States. In 2013 alone, the ADGC found four new AD genes, and later in the year, the newly established International Genomics of Alzheimer's Project, which includes the ADGC, as well as other AD genomic projects in France and the United Kingdom, identified 11 more genes involved in the various cellular pathways that are associated with Alzheimer's disease. This wealth of new data is providing critical insights into the mechanisms of AD that will lead to new therapeutic targets and strategies.