A new finding has identified nine genes that may possibly be connected to the development of dementia.
Researchers also confirmed earlier reports that a variation in the vitamin D3 receptor gene found on chromosome 12 may also increase the risk of the debilitating disease that robs people of their memories.
"The vitamin D3 receptor finding on chromosome 12 is really exciting, because it implicates a potential biological pathway that has been of interest in neurological disorders," researcher Jonathan L.
Haines, of Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
The study is the first step in the application of modern genomic approaches to understanding complex diseases.
Haines and his team compared approximately 550,000 genetic variations in about 500 people with Alzheimer's and 500 people without the disease. By identifying the nine genes associated with the condition, researchers say they can better understand the causes of Alzheimer's, a form of dementia in older people.
An estimated 5.2 million people in the U.S. are currently living with Alzheimer's disease. By 2030, it's estimated the number of individuals aged 65 and older with the disease will reach 7.7 million.