Mayo Clinic study: New gene mutation may be risk factor for Alzheimer's in African-Americans

A Mayo Clinic research team has found a new gene mutation that may be a risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease in African-Americans.

This is the first time this gene has been implicated in the development of this disease in this population.

Alzheimer’s disease has been understudied in African-Americans, despite the fact that the disease is twice as prevalent in African-Americans, compared to Caucasians and other ethnic groups.

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Action News Jax spoke to the lead author of the study, Dr. Nilufer Ertekin-Taner.

“We just wanted to generate knowledge in an area where not sufficient knowledge is in existence right now,” said Ertekin-Taner.

The research team conducted a genetic screening on more than 200 African-Americans who have Alzheimer’s disease. The screening yielded significant data that is crucial to understanding the disease in African-Americans.

“Even this screen is a miniscule (one) compared to the ones that are being conducted or have been in conducted in Caucasians,” said Dr. Ertekin-Taner.

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Families caring for loved ones are hopeful, knowing researchers are working to understand the disease that causes so much pain.

“It gives you hope. Because there are days where you may not be as optimistic,” said Kandice Jacobs-Armstrong.

If you need resources or have questions about caring for a loved one, contact the Alzheimer’s Association at its 24/7 Helpline: 1-800-272-3900, or at 904-281-9077.