Vital role in new Alzheimer’s discovery

Vital role in new Alzheimer’s discovery

PA 230/09

The University of Nottingham has played a crucial role in the discovery of two new genes associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

The results from the largest ever Alzheimer’s genome-wide association study (GWAS) have been described by the Alzheimer’s Research Trust as a leap forward for dementia research and could provide valuable new leads in the race to find treatments and possible cures for the disease.

Kevin Morgan, Professor of Human Genomics and Molecular Genetics, in the Institute of Genetics, leads the Alzheimer’s disease research group in Nottingham. With funding from the Alzheimer’s Research Trust (ART) he has established a DNA bank with over 4000 samples from Alzheimer’s patients and controls from other ART funded collaborators in seven UK centres. Two thousand samples from this DNA bank were provided for

Professor Morgan, whose research into Alzheimer’s disease is recognised nationally and internationally, said: “This study used the latest, most powerful technological approaches to identify new genes in Alzheimer’s disease. Over the coming decade these studies will provide the impetus for the study of novel genetic pathways that lead to Alzheimer’s disease and provide targets for new treatments.”

The UK-led research involved scientists from universities in Cardiff, London, Cambridge, Nottingham, Southampton, Manchester, Oxford, Bristol and Belfast. They collaborated with Irish, German, Belgian, Greek and American institutions.

Rebecca Wood, Chief Executive of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, said: “These findings are a leap forward for dementia research. At a time when we are yet to find ways of halting this devastating condition, this development is likely to spark off numerous new ideas, collaborations and more in the race for a cure. This work shows how British researchers lead the world in the struggle to understand and defeat dementia. With the right support for scientists, we can offer hope to the 30 million people worldwide who live with dementia.”

With Alzheimer’s Research Trust programme grant funding Professor Morgan has established ongoing collaborations with groups in Sweden as well as Cambridge, Oxford, Manchester, Southampton, Belfast and Bristol, Birmingham and Leeds.

Recently the trust confirmed continued support for The University of Nottingham as a Network Centre until 2011. Professor Morgan has recently established an international collaboration with Professor Steven Younkin at Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, USA. He currently has a post doctoral researcher at the Mayo Clinic who is working on analysing large genetic data sets. They have replicated the Mayo Clinic computer system in Nottingham so data can be readily exchanged between the two groups. Collectively they have a DNA bank with over 8000 samples — one of the largest collections of Alzheimer’s disease samples in the world.

Over the next decade The University of Nottingham is ideally placed to exploit the data emerging from the UK GWAS in LOAD to identify possible causal mutations in AD and also extend these studies into mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

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