By identifying potential genetic causes of Lewy body dementia (LBD), researchers hope to gain a better understanding of the devastating neurodegenerative disorder, for which there are no treatments. It is already known that LBD, Parkinson’s disease (PD), and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are all caused by clumps of proteins that build up in the nerve cells of the brain (alpha-synuclein in LBD and PD, tau in AD). The three diseases have some overlapping symptoms and related features of neurodegeneration.
In an article recently published in Nature Genetics, researchers compared the genomes of people with LBD to those of healthy individuals. They found that there were differences between these two groups in five genes—SCNA, APOE, GBA, BIN1, and TMEM175, suggesting they may be involved in LBD. Additionally, those with LBD shared a genetic risk profile with patients with PD and AD.
The authors of the study are sharing their data with the scientific community via an online database. The hope is that a better understanding of LBD, PD, AD, and the ways they are related will lead to the discovery of treatments that will precisely target these diseases.