v Speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting in Denver today, Rudolph E. Tanzi, director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit at the Massachusetts General Hospital, said that his research and that of other geneticists offers hope that physicians eventually will be able to predict and prevent the disease that poses a serious threat to the minds of millions of aging baby boomers.
"The genetic underpinnings for up to 70 percent of Alzheimer's cases remain unsolved," Tanzi said. "This research lays the ground work for identifying genes that will allow us to reliably predict the disease before it strikes, giving us new clues about biological causes of disease so that we can help prevent it. The ultimate goal is to custom-make drugs to address our own genetic properties."
During a topical lecture at the AAAS Annual Meeting, Tanzi, who is also professor of neurology and neuroscience at Harvard Medical School, will describe his work on a decade-long analysis of 500 families with Alzheimer's Disease, carried out as part of a multi-institutional effort with funding from the National Institute for Mental Health. The findings lead inevitably to a new vision of medical care, not only in the treatment of Alzheimer's, but of any disease with genetic causes, Tanzi said.
"Our laboratory's goal of early prediction-early prevention of this insidious neurological disorder will likely emerge in the future as the preferred means for treating cancers, diabetes, heart disease, and other common yet complex genetic disorders that challenge the health of our elderly population," Tanzi said. "Like Alzheimer's, all of these disorders involve, on one hand,