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One thing many people fear about aging is the possibility of Alzheimer’s Disease. And although scientists may not have a cure or even effective treatment for it just yet, they’re learning more and more about the condition. Just recently, scientists discovered a way to detect Alzheimer’s risk in babies.
A major risk factor for Alzheimer’s is a gene called APOE-e4. The more copies of APOE-e4 a person has, the more likely they are to develop Alzheimer’s. However, it’s important to note that not everyone who has APOE-e4 gets Alzheimer’s, nor does everyone who gets Alzheimer’s have APOE-e4. But there is certainly a correlation between the two.
In a recent study, scientists did brain scans on 162 babies including 60 who had APOE-e4. The ones with APOE-e4 had comparatively less growth in the middle and back areas of their brains. These are the same regions that tend to be affected in Alzheimer’s patients. According to the scientists, these results raise “questions about the role of this gene [APOE-e4] in brain development, how the brain changes might relate to later Alzheimer’s development, and whether early therapies that target these changes might prevent the disease.”
They were also careful to point out that the results did not mean the babies were destined for Alzheimer’s or in any way cognitively impaired. It’s also interesting to note that the babies with APOE-e4 had comparatively more brain growth in the front area of their brain. So it’s possible APOE-e4 has some positive effects as well.
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