Study Identifies Genetic Risks For Alzheimer's Disease In Black Americans

Genetic researchers at the University of Miami (UM) identified new genetic risks for Alzheimer's disease among Black Americans, NBC Miami reported. The study, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Neurology (JAMA), included over 8,000 Black Americans. Some had the disease, while others didn't. The large population sample allowed researchers to pinpoint several new genetic risk factors.

“These novel risk factors confirm immunity and lipid processing as important processes and implicate neuronal transport and processing pathways," Dr. Brian Kunkle said, who is a genetic epidemiologist with the Hussman Institute at UM. "Finding these new genes and the biological functions (pathways) they control provides for greater insights into the causes of Alzheimer’s and allows for their targeting by clinicians with therapeutic interventions in the future."

Alzheimer's Disease affects over 5 million Americans, and there's no cure. Environmental exposures can contribute to the disease over a person's lifetime, such as diet and access to health care. Kunkle explained further that risk factors for Alzheimer's can vary based on a person's genetic ancestry.

“What we found in this study was that while there are shared risk factors among African Americans and other populations, we also found genetic risk factors that are specific to African Americans and people with African American ancestry," Kunkle said.

Findings like this helps doctors better understand the disease and develop therapies for everyone. UM researchers are still looking for more Black American participants; click here for information.

Photo: Getty Images

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