Genomics: DNA Blueprint for Alzheimer's Disease

Sequencing photo showing the order of the DNA's base structures.


Genes are the “master blueprint” that instruct our cells to make unique proteins which in turn build, operate, and repair human tissue. Humans have an estimated 24,000 genes along our 23 matched pairs of chromosomes (46 in all), and “genomics” refers to the field that studies all of them at once.

Genes are passed down from a person's biological parents. They carry information that defines traits such as eye color and height. Genes also play a role in keeping the body's cells healthy.

Even slight changes in a gene on one or both chromosomes can produce a protein that functions abnormally, possibly causing or increasing or decreasing the risk of a disease such as Alzheimer’s.  

A series of DNA molecules.

Role of Genetics

A key area of research is discovering all that we can about the role of Alzheimer's genetic risks and protective factors. Understanding more about the genetic basis of the disease helps researchers to:

  • Answer a number of basic questions such as what causes AD to start?

  • Determine how genetic risk and protective factors may interact with other genes and lifestyle or environmental factors to affect Alzheimer's risk in any one person.

  • Identify people who are at high risk for developing Alzheimer's so they can benefit from new interventions and treatments.

  • Explain differences in Alzheimer's disease risk and protection among racial groups and sexes.

  • Focus on new prevention and treatment approaches

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