Unraveling Alzheimer's; November 1993; Scientific American Magazine; by Tim Beardsley; 3 Page(s)
Workers at the Duke University Medical Center have identiffed what seems to be a critical factor in the development of Alzheimer's disease, the degenerative brain disorder that afflicts four million people in the U.S. The factor may be associated with about 80 percent of the cases of the illness. Identiffcation of the factor, a form of a gene responsible for the manufacture of a lipoprotein, has been con- ffrmed by 10 other laboratories.
The Duke researchers--Margaret A. Pericak-Vance, Ann M. Saunders and Allen D. Roses, among others--have found a strikingly clear association between the onset of Alzheimer's and a particular variant of a gene that codes for a known blood protein, apolipoprotein E. The suspect gene, APOE-e4, can be detected with a test that is already widely used for diagnosing a serious cholesterol-transport disorder.