The gene APOE has been heavily researched in connection with causing Alzheimer’s, with the latest research suggesting that the gene can be “fixed” through the administration of a lab-engineered APOE4 to the faulty gene, resulting in structural changes that make the APOE4 gene behave more like the APOE3 gene, the inoffensive gene.
Applying the modified APOE4 gene to human neurons corrected the defects, restoring normal cell function, prolonging cell life and erasing the signs of the disease.
If someone has one copy of the APOE4 gene, their risk of developing Alzheimer’s increases three fold and if they have two copies their risk is increased twelve fold. The role of APOE in the body is to provide instructions for synthesising proteins and in combination with fats, liproprotein complexes are formed which are used to transport cholesterol through the blood stream.
The E4 variant has been strongly linked to the build up of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain- however this was only observed after the gene was studied in human cells in the lab- in mice, there was no beta-amyloid build up in the neurons. This is often a large stumbling block in developing effective Alzheimer’s treatments- new drugs model perfectly in mice, however in humans there are discrepancies in terms of their efficacy. This new research represents a new frontier in developing effective treatments.
1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321455.php [Accessed 21/05/2018]