More than 20 years ago, scientists at The Roskamp Institute were among those to first discover the first known genetic cause of Alzheimer’s disease. The discovery had major consequences: The genetic errors were discovered in the amyloid gene. This discovery focused attention on amyloid and it is now recognized as a critical component of all Alzheimer’s disease, not in just the very rare early-onset cases (with the disease starting between the ages of 50 and 60).
As a result of this focus, it is now widely accepted that amyloid (a small protein) accumulation is an early contributor to the sequence of events that lead to brain degeneration and cognitive decline.
The discovery allowed the generation of so-called “transgenic” mice, which carry the human genetic errors that cause early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. These mice are born normally, and are cognitively normal until they grow older; at which point they begin to lose the ability to remember new information, just as Alzheimer’s patients do.
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