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Boston researchers join international Alzheimer’s mission

Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine are part of an international collaboration, announced today, to discover and map all of the genes linked to Alzheimer's disease in an effort to improve treatments.

The collaboration, which includes groups of scientists from the United States, France, and the United Kingdom, will study detailed files from 40,000 patients, half of whom have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and the rest healthy older adults. The patients come from across Europe, the UK, the United States, and Canada.

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While each group of scientists is currently working with thousands of participants – including people with Alzheimer’s and those free of dementia – scientists in the four groups said that only by working together can they amass a large enough collection of participants to accelerate gene discovery. The collaboration creates a shared resource database that includes genetic data for the more than 40,000 individuals.

A primary goal, the scientists said, is to understand how people may inherit Alzheimer's and whether other factors may play a role.

"We are particularly interested in understanding the relationship between genes we uncover ... and environmental risk factors," one of the local lead researchers, Dr. Sudha Seshadri, of Boston University School of Medicine, said in a statement released by the school.

The group expects to present its first findings at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease in Paris in July.

Other Boston University researchers involved in the collaboration include Lindsay Farrer, Anita DeStefano, and Drs. Philip Wolf and Stephanie Debette.

The project is being funded by the Alzheimer's Association and the Fondation Plan Alzheimer of France, and includes a two-year, $250,000 grant from the Alzheimer's Association.

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