A report published in JAMA Neurology suggests that DNA that scientists have long thought was linked to memory loss and cognitive limits in Alzheimer’s disease may not effect either, Bloomberg reported.
In the study, which involved one man, researchers found no neurological signs of Alzheimer’s even though he lacked a protein normally produced by healthy forms of the APOE gene, which helps carry cholesterol in the body.
The finding may mean scientists can disable a mutated form of the DNA that’s been associated with the protein clumps in the brain found in Alzheimer’s without harming a person’s ability to think, said study author Mary Malloy.
Further, minimizing the variant gene, dubbed APOE4, “may provide us with a new venue for intervention with Alzheimer’s disease, and other cognitive disorders.”
Joachim Herz, who wrote an accompanying editorial, said now that it’s been shown that a lack of APOE isn’t harmful to the brain, researchers can begin looking for ways to shut off the gene just within the brain.
“This opens the door to explore such possibilities more rigorously because we have the proof of concept that reducing APOE isn’t harmful to patients,” Herz noted.