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Alzheimer’s research gets boost from genetic database

July 19, 2013
by Lois A. Bowers, Senior Editor
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Whole genome sequences on more than 800 people enrolled in the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) will be made available to scientists at no charge via a new database funded by the Alzheimer’s Association and the Brin Wojcicki Foundation.

The “big data” initiative, the first for Alzheimer’s disease, involves the largest collection of genetic data from individuals with a single disease, according to the organizations. It aims to help investigators more quickly pursue treatments, preventive and diagnostic measures and a cure for the disease.

Whole genome sequencing determines all six billion letters in an individual’s DNA in one comprehensive analysis. By comparing existing ADNI data and other information with the new gene sequence data, researchers may be able to identify disease markers in body fluids as well as changes in the brain and memory.

“With the addition of more than 800 whole genomes on ADNI subjects that can be linked to the current rich dataset, ADNI data will be even more useful to scientists who are seeking new approaches to treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Robert C. Green, MD, MPH, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, who led the sequencing efforts within the ADNI.

The ADNI is a public/private research project led by the National Institutes of Health and involving pharmaceutical companies, nonprofit organizations and science-related businesses. Enrollees in the program have Alzheimer’s disease, mild cognitive impairment or normal cognition and have agreed to be studied in great detail over time.

The database will be available through the newly announced Global Alzheimer’s Association Interactive Network, initially funded by a $5 million investment by the association.

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