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Just days after news that an ultra-rare form of a cholesterol-related gene called APOE protected a Colombian woman from developing early-onset Alzheimer’s disease (as one of her other genes supposedly fated her to), a second study is providing even stronger evidence that APOE might be the basis for preventing or treating Alzheimer’s.

In the largest and clearest calculation yet of how the three different forms of APOE affect the risk of old-age Alzheimer’s (not the rare form that strikes in people’s 40s), scientists found that one variant raises the risk more than previously estimated. A second lowers it more than less rigorous studies reported — by a whopping 99.6% compared to the highest-risk DNA.


“Finding and targeting the factors by which APOE and its variants influence Alzheimer’s disease could have a major impact on the understanding, treatment, and prevention of this terrible disease,” scientists led by Dr. Eric Reiman of the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix conclude in a paper submitted for publication.

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