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Research Directions in Alzheimer’s Disease

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Learning more about the role of apoE in the development of AD may help scientists identify who would benefit from prevention/treatment. Focusing on the most important risk factor, advancing age, may help explain the role that genes play in most AD cases. Age continues to be associated with the disease even when no known genetic factors are present.

Other factors believed to play important roles in the development of AD may work together to cause the illness. For example, recent research suggests that certain alleles on chromosome 14 may interact with apoE to increase risk in late-onset cases.

Scientists agree there is a need to clarify the role of genetic factors in the development of AD. Their findings will affect both predictive and diagnostic testing and help the public understand more about the complex role of genes in diseases. In addition, this research will help shape the content of genetic counseling services. Among the remaining issues of concern are the small number of genetic counselors now trained in neurodegenerative disorders, and privacy and confidentiality policies related to genetic information and AD.

The new knowledge made available by applying techniques from molecular biology to diseases like AD challenges institutions and individuals with a stake in the use of this knowledge.

Source: Connection Magazine [Volume 5(1), Winter/Spring 1996]

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