Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Alzheimer's may target isolated extended families with intermarriage (NYT story about a Colombian family)

Pam Belluck has three stories (one long front page story and two sidebars) in the New York Times on Wednesday June 2, “Alzheimer’s stalks a Colombian family”, link here.

A number of extended family members in this remote area have developed Alzheimer’s symptoms in their 30s, attracting the attention of genetic researchers. Some of the family has Basque origin (from northern Spain).

Marriage within relatively closer relatives in a less populated area may be contributing to the occurrence of the disease.

The article also discussed other genetic combinations, that appear to be recessive, that may contribute to Alzheimer’s between age 60 and 80.

The research is critical because Alzheimer’s is expected to increase dramatically in the US and Europe in the next ten years. One possible prevention strategy includes a vaccine that would actually enable the immune system to prevent the accumulation of plaque tangles in the brain.

The June 2010 issue of Scientific American has a piece (on p 51) "Alzheimer's: Forestalling the Darkness" by Gary Stix, link here (subcription or purchase required for complete article). The article also discusses early Alzheimer's in Macondo and Medellin, Colombia.

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