With more than 5 million Americans suffering from Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia, the race is on to surface clues about causes and prevention.
An important breakthrough for the research field comes in the journal Nature this week. Researchers say they found a rare genetic mutation in Iceland that appears to protect against Alzheimer's disease.
The mutation appears to slow the production of the beta-amyloid protein, long considered to be a cause of Alzheimer's. This mechanism helps validate the theory that beta-amyloid plaques – an accumulation of the protein - cause this form of dementia for which no cure has been found. The research team was led by Dr. Kari Stefansson, chief executive of the Icelandic company DeCode Genetics. They studied data from the genomes of nearly 1,800 Icelandic people.
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