Alzheimer’s disease is a severe health concern affecting one out of every ten individuals aged 65 and above, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
Detecting this disease early can help reduce its impact on the brain. Various genes have been linked to Alzheimer’s, with some showing up in patients from different ethnic backgrounds.
However, the issue arises when we realize that most studies have focused on patients of European descent.
This creates a gap in our understanding of the disease in people of different ethnicities. That’s where researchers from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) have decided to step in.
A Global Initiative
Their mission was to develop a tool that could estimate the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in people from all around the world. They wanted to remove any biases in diagnosis based on ethnicity.
For this, they tapped into data from the International HundredK+ Cohorts Consortium (IHCC), enabling them to cover various under-represented populations.
This data-driven approach helped them devise an algorithm, the genomic informed risk assessment (GIRA), capable of predicting Alzheimer’s across diverse global populations.
The GIRA considers the apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene, a known risk factor for Alzheimer’s, other genetic markers, and variables like age, sex, and ethnicity.
A Promising Performance
When the researchers put their GIRA to the test, it demonstrated encouraging results.
They found that it could identify certain proteins linked to female infertility and autoimmune thyroiditis as factors contributing to Alzheimer’s risk.
What’s more, the GIRA outperformed other risk assessment tools in East Asian populations, such as Japanese and Korean, as well as South Asian groups, including Pakistani and Bangladeshi.
However, the study still lacked substantial data from African populations.
To address this, the team partnered with the Davos Alzheimer Collaborative (DAC) with hopes of including more people of African descent in future research.
The Future Looks Inclusive
According to senior study author Hakon Hakonarson, the IHCC data is a valuable resource for research focusing on diverse ethnicities.
By including such a wide range of populations, researchers can better understand the unique health needs of different ethnicities that have previously been overlooked.
With more validation from diverse cohorts, they believe this model could be applied to many diseases, improving healthcare for patients who have often been underrepresented in clinical research.
This pioneering work from CHOP researchers represents a significant step towards equality in Alzheimer’s disease prediction and diagnosis.
If you care about Alzheimer’s, please read studies about Vitamin D deficiency linked to Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia, and Oral cannabis extract may help reduce Alzheimer’s symptoms.
For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about Vitamin B9 deficiency linked to higher dementia risk, and results showing flavonoid-rich foods could improve survival in Parkinson’s disease.
The study was published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia.
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