Late onset Alzheimer’s is the most common type of Alzheimer’s disease. Now, there a new gene has been discovered that seems to raise one’s chance of developing late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. The new research shows promise for significant findings in the future.
The National Institute of Aging says that Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease that affects the brain by gradually destroying cognitive skills. The site also says it is not currently known what triggers the course of Alzheimer’s. Experts say the disease affects “as many as 5.1 million Americans.”

The gene being studied is gene MTHFD1L. Its link to Alzheimer’s was discovered through looking at gene variation. According to New gene associated with increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, the new study discovered that people possessing a certain “variation in the gene MTHFD1L” have almost twice the chance of developing the disease compared with people lacking “the variation.” Yet, why is this information important? Well, scientists say “the gene is known to be involved in influencing the body’s levels of homocysteine, and high levels of homocysteine are strong risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease.”

As for the future, affirmation of knowing which genes are responsible for the disease will help when drugs are developed to help slow down the process of Alzheimer’s. According to New Alzheimer’s Gene Found, knowing who will eventually have Alzheimer’s disease will be very helpful once there are drugs available “to prevent or slow the course of the disorder.” It is sort of like having a crystal ball. Yet, to me, this is both comforting and uncomfortable. I don’t know if I would want to know if I was going to have Alzheimer’s, if I knew there was nothing to help the degenerative nature of the disease. However, I suppose, the more they understand, the closer researchers are to finding ways to prevent or slow down the process of Alzheimer’s.

As for now, it is said that this gene only accounts for 5% of “inherited Alzheimer’s disease.” According to medicalnewstoday, some other causes of Alzheimer’s may be down’s syndrome, head injuries, being a female, atrial fibrillation, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, lower academic level and even nitrates in foods. Indeed, the causes of Alzheimer’s disease are not very straightforward. The fact that there is not a cure is disheartening too, especially for the family members of the person with Alzheimer’s.

If you care for or have someone in your family with Alzheimer’s disease, here is a guide to help you understand some of the struggles you may face.