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A gene therapy to prevent Alzheimer’s is about to be tested

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A new clinical trial for a gene therapy treatment hopes to protect people against Alzheimer’s disease before it ever develops, Antonio Regalado writes.

Lucky genes: We don’t know for sure what causes Alzheimer’s disease, but we do know your chance of getting it is very strongly linked to whichever one of the three main versions of the gene APOE you inherit. There’s no cure for the disease, and you can’t change your genes.

The trial: In May, US doctors will start testing a novel gene therapy where people with the unluckiest APOE gene variant will be given a huge dose to their brain of the low-risk version. If that slows the brain-wasting illness in existing Alzheimer’s patients, it could eventually lead to a way to prevent the disease (but sadly not a cure for people who have it already.)

The eventual hope: It’s that middle-aged people with risky genes could undergo one-time genetic tune-ups. Even a small reduction in the pace at which brain changes occur could make a difference over time. Read the full story here.

Posted Tuesday, February 26, 2019