NHS Highland joins Alzheimer’s disease research

Highlanders to boost efforts to identify genes associated with young onset Alzheimer’s

Tuesday 9th July 2019

NHS Highland is to participate in a Medical Research Council (MRC) study on Alzheimer’s disease looking to identify genes associated with young onset Alzheimer’s disease in the hope that this translates into new treatments and improved diagnosis.

The most common form of dementia  the disease usually affects people over the age of 70.

However, approximately 4% of people are affected in their 40’s, 50’s or 60’s with what is known as young onset Alzheimer’s disease (YOAD).

Run by a team from Cardiff University School of Medicine, Highland volunteers diagnosed with the condition who experienced symptoms before the age of 70 are being invited to take part in the study.

It is hoped by identifying genes associated with YOAD, the Cardiff group led by Professor Julie Williams will learn more about why people develop the disease before the age of 70 and inform the development of diagnosis and new treatments.

More than 30 genes associated with Alzheimer’s disease have been discovered so far, aided by more than 3,000 people taking part in research.

Joanna Hepburn, a clinical research nurse based at the centre for health science, Raigmore Campus, said: “Very little is known about the cause of Alzheimer's Disease. However it is thought to be explained by a combination of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors.

“Genes act like instructions for processes in our bodies. Differences in these instructions are what make us unique.

“By comparing the subtle differences in the genes of groups of people with and without Alzheimer’s Disease, we discover clues about the processes in our bodies which may cause the condition.

“Findings could give scientists new areas to research, which could lead to new ways to treat and delay Alzheimer’s disease.”