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Mass General Lands $5.4M for Alzheimer's Family Genomics Study

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Massachusetts General Hospital researchers have received a $5.4 million grant to use genome sequencing in studies aimed at discovering switches in Alzheimer's-linked genes and how these may be controlled by environmental factors.

The funding from the Cure Alzheimer's Fund (CAF) will support the second phase of the Alzheimer's Genome Project, which previously identified novel genes linked to Alzheimer's risk.

In the project's second phase, the MGH team over the next year-and-a-half will obtain complete genome sequences for 1,500 families with members who have Alzheimer's and will compare the genomes of family members who have the disease with those who do not.
The findings from these studies will be made freely available to the global scientific community, which as a whole still has a limited understanding of the genes and variants that may be involved in Alzheimer's disease.

"This research is searching for genetic factors that influence risk for getting the disease and affect brain pathology," Rudolph Tanzi, director of the Genetics and Aging Unit at MGH, said in a statement.

"The application of comprehensive whole genome DNA sequencing to identify the gene variants that influence risk for Alzheimer's disease is absolutely essential for understanding the biological underpinnings of this terrible disease," Tanzi added, explaining that the study of family genetics "will provide valuable new clues about how to effectively treat and prevent Alzheimer's disease."

MGH President Peter Slavin said the collaboration between the Cure Alzheimer's Fund and the hospital has already led to the identification of 120 new candidate genes.

"We will now be able to mine this information for new levels of detail and give new hope to patients here and around the world," Slavin added.

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