UC Irvine scientists link new gene to Alzheimer’s

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Daniel A. Anderson / University Communications

Dr. Steven Potkin of UC Irvine studied the TOMM40 gene, which appears to be linked to Alzheimer's disease.

UC Irvine researchers have discovered a gene that appears to be linked to Alzheimer’s disease. KPCC’s Orange County Reporter Susan Valot has more.

The gene is known as TOMM40. Scientists at UCI say it contributes to the formation of plaques that are hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. The gene also influences how easily molecules can get in and out of mitochondria.

Mitochondria are considered the “power plants” of cells. They provide energy so the cells can function. As you age, mitochondria don’t work as well – and you have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s. UCI researchers found the gene TOMM40 appears twice as often in people with the brain-robbing disease than in those without it.

Of course, other factors and genes also influence your chance of getting Alzheimer’s. But researchers hope this new finding might help them come up with new mitochondria-based therapies for Alzheimer’s.

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