The Alzheimer’s Gene We Can Live Without

One man’s unique medical case is shedding light on a question that scientists have not been able to answer: Can we live without the gene that’s linked to Alzheimer’s?

One gene has been singled out as having a direct and significant link to Alzheimer’s disease. It’s called apolipoprotein E, or simply APOE for short. Scientists have known about APOE, but they had no way of testing whether its removal would injure the human brain.

That is, until now.

The New York Times now reports that one man’s brain is functioning just fine without it.

“If a person with this rare condition were found to be functioning normally, that would suggest support for a new direction in Alzheimer’s treatment.

It would mean that efforts — already being explored by dementia experts — to prevent Alzheimer’s by reducing, eliminating or neutralizing the effects of the most dangerous version of APOE might succeed without causing other problems in the brain.”

According to the Times, the APOE gene comes in a few different forms. Here are some stats they report:

“… one of them, the APOE4 variant, is the biggest known genetic risk factor for the most common form of Alzheimer’s. People with one copy of APOE4, about 20 percent of the population, have up to five times the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, compared to people without that variant, and they develop the disease earlier.

People with two copies, about 2 percent of the population, have up to 15 times the risk. About 90 percent of people with two copies will develop Alzheimer’s by the time they are age 80.

Another form of the APOE gene, E3, is very common but poses less risk. A third variant, E2, is rare and is the least dangerous.

We at Senior Lifestyle are very excited about the potential for this discovery, and we hope that it leads to further progress toward a cure for Alzheimer’s, the leading cause of dementia.

Read the full article in The New York Times.

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