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MDLinxNew Study Finds Genetic Factor Fends Off Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s

Protective Allele DR4 Offers Dual Defense Against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases

A study by Stanford Medicine has identified a gene variant that offers protection against both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. The allele, known as DR4, reduces the risk of contracting either neurodegenerative condition by over 10% on average. The research also suggests a potential role for the tau protein, commonly associated with Alzheimer’s, in Parkinson’s disease.

HCN Medical Memo
The discovery of the DR4 allele’s protective effects against both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases opens new avenues for targeted therapies and preventive measures. The potential development of a vaccine based on acetylated PHF6 could be a game-changer in delaying or slowing the progression of these neurodegenerative conditions for DR4 carriers. Patient stratification based on DR4 subtype could also lead to more personalized treatment plans.

Key Points:
  • The allele DR4 has been identified as a protective factor against both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
  • Carrying the DR4 allele reduces the risk of contracting either disease by more than 10%.
  • The tau protein, known for its role in Alzheimer’s, may also be involved in Parkinson’s disease.
  • Physicians’ Perspectives: Dr. Mignot suggests that a vaccine consisting of acetylated PHF6 could potentially delay the onset or slow the progression of both diseases for those carrying the DR4 allele.

“That this protective factor for Parkinson’s wound up having the same protective effect with respect to Alzheimer’s floored me. The night after we found that out, I couldn’t sleep.”
– Emmanuel Mignot, MD, PhD, Craig Reynolds Professor in Sleep Medicine, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Additional Points:
  • The study analyzed medical and genetic data from hundreds of thousands of people across diverse ancestries.
  • DR4 carriers had fewer neurofibrillary tangles and a later onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms compared to non-carriers.
  • DR4 also correlated with a later onset of Parkinson’s symptoms.
  • The DR4 allele comes in various subtypes, which may offer different levels of protection depending on the individual’s ancestry.
  • Stanford University has filed a patent application related to these findings.

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