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Alzheimer's Consortium Making Genetic Association Data Available

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative announced today that it has completed more than 95 percent of its high-density, genome-wide analysis of ADNI participants and will be sharing data from the effort with scientists through a public database for additional analyses.

"This new data set provides a unique opportunity to evaluate the associations between a highly comprehensive dataset based on brain imaging, clinical examinations, and other biomarkers and the entire genome or selected candidate genes," Indiana University Center for Neuroimaging Director Andrew Saykin, who led the genetics research, said in a statement.

"Where most prior research focused on the association between genetic variations and the presence or absence of Alzheimer's disease, the new project and data should facilitate novel gene discovery based on associations with neuroimaging patterns detected in the ADNI data," Saykin added.

Although APOE has been consistently identified as a disease risk gene for late-onset Alzheimer's disease, scientists believe other genes are important for the disease and its progression as well.

In an effort to find additional genes involved in Alzheimer's disease susceptibility, age of onset, expression, and rate of progression, ADNI researchers used an Illumina 610 Quad array to assess more than 620,000 markers in ADNI participants. The work was done by investigators at the Translational Genomics Institute of Phoenix, the National Cell Repository for Alzheimer's Disease, the University of California at Irvine Brain Imaging Center, the Indiana University Center for Neuroimaging, and 59 ADNI sites.

ADNI is a public-private partnership involved in an ongoing, $60 million project aimed at determining whether brain imaging, biological markers, and/or clinical and neuropsychological assessments can measure mild cognitive impairment and early Alzheimer's disease progression. The research is supported by the National Institutes of Health as well as pharmaceutical industry and not-for-profit organizations that have contributed through the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health.

The project includes brain imaging studies, using longitudinal magnetic resonance imaging or MRI and positron emission tomography, and biomarker studies of blood, urine, and spinal fluid involving more than 800 individuals. Half of the subjects have mild cognitive impairment, a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia.

Data from the project will be available through the ADNI database.

"The release of this genetics data, in combination with the clinical, cognitive, MRI, PET, and blood/cerebrospinal fluid data already in the ADNI database, will now allow investigators to explore genetic factors related to the rate of progression of Alzheimer's disease," ADNI principal investigator Michael Weiner, director of the San Francisco VA Medical Center's Center for the Imaging of Neurodegenerative Diseases and researcher at University of California at San Francisco, said in a statement.

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