An international research team including scientists from the University of Toronto's Faculty of Medicine has discovered a link between a mutation in an immune system gene and Alzheimer's disease.
Using data from 25,000 people, researchers from the Faculty of Medicine and University College London's Institute of Neurology discovered that a rare genetic mutation in the TREM2 gene - which helps trigger immune system responses - is also associated with increased risk of Alzheimer's. The discovery supports an emerging theory about the role of the immune system in the disease.
"This discovery provides an increasingly firm link between brain inflammation and increased risk for Alzheimer's," says Dr. Peter St George-Hyslop, director of U of T's Tanz Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases. "This is an important step towards unraveling the hidden causes of this disease, so that we can develop treatments and interventions to end one of the 21st century's most significant health challenges."