Genetic mutation may protect against Alzheimer's - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Genetic mutation may protect against Alzheimer's

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A discovery by scientists could mean new hope for patients with Alzheimer's disease and their loved ones.

The journal "Nature" is reporting research about a rare genetic mutation that appears to protect against Alzheimer's.

The researchers in Iceland say the mutation appears to slow the production of the beta-amyloid protein, which has long been considered to be a cause of this form of dementia.

It's possible that the genetic mutation could be exclusive to the Icelandic population.

The study helps support the theory that beta-amyloid plaques, a build-up of the protein, cause Alzheimer's.

An estimated 5 million Americans suffer from the disease, which has no cure.  A Harvard Medical School neurologist says this research could help in the development of new, more promising drugs.