Mike Leidig
Phone: +43-1-81140-319
Tue, 14.01.2003
pte20030114048 Health/Medicine, Science/Technology
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Hope in Europe to find the Alzheimer gene
Researcher systematically study the data of hundreds of families across Europe

Regensburg (pte048/14.01.2003/12:26) - Doctors, historians, statisticians, epidemiologists and computer experts from seven European countries will analyse data on Alzheimer patients and their relatives going back for several generations in an attempt to identify the gene responsible for the disease.

Neurologist Hans Kluenemann, from the department for psychiatry and psychotherapy at the Regensburg medical university and head of the interdisciplinary network, told journalists that doctors will be able to develop new therapies for Alzheimer's once they identified the genetic defect that caused the disease.

"A study of Alzheimer's patients and several generations of their relatives will be at the heart of the project," he said at the launch of the project in Regensburg attended by scientists from Spain, Italy, Belgium, Finland, Sweden, Germany and The Netherlands.

Data from church registries, which have been digitalized, will be used to check whether descendents of patients also had Alzheimer's disease. Among the data banks to be used is one belonging to the diocese of Passau with six million entries on the local population going back to the year 1580.

"We will use these church registries to get information about the ancestors of Alzheimer's patients and so find out whether they might have had Alzheimer's disease, too," Dr Kluenemann said.

"The blood of Alzheimer's patients will be studied. A computer will be used to identity the specific genetic features, which are only found in the Alzheimer's patients and not in their relatives. "These genes will then be examined individually. In this way, we will be able to identify the genetic defect that leads to Alzheimer's," said Dr Kluenemann.

Several hundred families in the whole of Europe will be studied as part of the project, which is the first ever of this scale in Europe. A study in Calabria, Italy, led to the identification of the Alzheimer gene PS1. "Our aim is to pool our resources so that we have sufficient financial means, qualified staff and DNA samples, to be able to conduct research at the highest level," he said. Dr Kluenemann said that the project would take several years to complete.

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Contact: Mike Leidig
Phone: +43-1-81140-319