Researchers led by the Washington School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, have identified genetic clues that may indicate the rate at which Alzheimer's disease will progress. SeniorJournal.com reports that a certain single DNA variation has been found to be associated with a rapid progression of the disease.
According to the news source, the study, which was published in the online journal Public Library of Science Genetics, focused on 846 patients with an elevated level of a certain protein.
This protein, called tau, is generally believed to be a cause of Alzheimer's disease. Scientists reported that the results found that patients with a certain genetic marker have higher tau levels.
"Until now, most studies of genetic risks associated with Alzheimer's disease have looked at the risk of developing the disease, not the speed at which you will progress once you have it. The genetic marker we've identified deals with progression," senior investigator Alison M Goate told the news outlet.
The results could prove beneficial to those who are providing care to a loved one with the mental illness. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, almost 11 million Americans are caring for someone with Alzheimer's disease or some other dementia.