A new study into the genetic causes of the degenerative disease Alzheimer's has identified four "suspect genes" which may offer an insight into the development of the condition, it has been noted.
Researchers from the MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease MGH-MIND led a team to the findings, which have been published in the online American Journal of Human Genetics.
Some half a million DNA markers from more than 400 million families where three or members had Alzheimer's disease as part of the study.
Researchers discovered that there were five markers which demonstrated a genetic association with the condition.
"Each new gene we find not only enhances our ability to predict and diagnose the disease, but also provides valuable new clues about biochemical events and pathways involved in the disease process," said Rudolph Tanzi, director of the MGH-MIND Genetics and Aging Research Unit.
He added that it is only over the past five years that the tools for identifying the genes responsible for influencing late-onset Alzheimer's have been available.
Meanwhile, the University of British Columbia in Vancouver has discovered that the epilepsy drug valproic acid may be useful in treating Alzheimer's.