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Alzheimer's study tops academic poll

16 Rhagfyr 2010

A landmark University study which helped uncover two new genes associated with Alzheimer's disease is the most cited research amongst the world’s Alzheimer’s academic community, according to an independent science database.

The Thomson Reuters Essential Science database for 2008 – 2010 found that the study Genome-wide association study identifies variants at CLU and PICALM associated with Alzheimer’s disease,published in Nature Genetics in 2009, is the most cited amongst the Alzheimer’s research community.

Led by the Research Institute’s Professor Julie Williams and Professor Mike Owen, the study was the largest-ever joint Alzheimer's disease genome-wide association study (GWAS) involving 16,000 individuals.

The study uncovered two new genes associated with Alzheimer's disease. Previously only one gene, APOE4, had been shown to be a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease. The study revealed, for the first time, that two further genes, CLU and PICALM, are related to Alzheimer's disease.

Professor Julie Williams, said: "We are delighted that our team efforts are recognised by the Alzheimer’s research community in this way - but what pleases us most is that our genetic findings are helping us understand the biological causes of Alzheimer's disease, indeed these results have already highlighted new pathways to the disease."

The study was funded by the Wellcome Trust, Medical Research Council, Alzheimer’s Research Trust and the Welsh Assembly Government and was one of the first to emerge from the University’s flagship Medical Research Centre (MRC) research centre.

The Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics at the University – the only MRC Centre of its type in Wales, is aimed specifically at harnessing the genetics revolution for research in mental disorders.

This is not to first time this study has attracted widespread recognition.

In 2009 the study was recognised by TIME Magazine as one of the top 10 medical breakthroughs of 2009 - joining a prestigious list of other medical breakthroughs recognised by the magazine, including the lifting of the ban on stem-cell research, research into a new AIDS vaccine, the development of the H1N1 vaccine and the discovery of new osteoporosis drugs.