Research targets new gene linked to Alzheimer's

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New research has potentially linked Alzheimer's disease with calcium dysregulation—a theory that had been proposed by several research groups, but never been proven.

A newly discovered gene called calcium homeostasis modulator 1 (CALHM1) is at the center of the new research. Located predominantly in the hippocampus-the area of the brain usually first affected by Alzheimer's-the gene has not only been found to help regulate the flow of calcium to cells, it also plays a part in the development of amyloid-beta plaques, a leading contributor to Alzheimer's. Variants on this gene have been found more frequently in people with Alzheimer's than those without. Researchers estimate that a single copy of one of the variants raises the likelihood of developing Alzheimer's by up to 44%.

Because the gene is located almost exclusively in the brain, it is a good candidate for amyloid-beta therapies, researchers at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research say. Report findings are an important step in understanding the connection between calcium regulation in the brain and the harmful accumulation of amyloid-beta plaques. The report will be published in the June 27 issue of the journal Cell.