APP Gene’s Diversity Holds Potential to Treat Alzheimer’s with HIV Therapies, Researchers Say

APP Gene’s Diversity Holds Potential to Treat Alzheimer’s with HIV Therapies, Researchers Say
Brain nerve cells of Alzheimer’s disease patients can produce thousands of variants of the APP gene, which codes for β-amyloid protein, a hallmark of the disease, researchers say. An enzyme important to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a key player in APP’s genetic diversity, supporting the potential for HIV antiretroviral therapies to treat Alzheimer's. "These findings may fundamentally change how we understand the brain and Alzheimer's disease," Jerold Chun, MD, PhD, professor and senior vice president of Neuroscience Drug Discovery at California's Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) and the study’s lead author, said in a press release. "Our findings provide a scientific rationale for immediate clinical evaluation of HIV antiretroviral therapies in people with Alzheimer's disease. Such studies may also be valuable for high-risk populations, such as people with rare genetic forms of Alzheimer's disease," he said. The study “Somatic APP gene recombination in Alzheimer’s disease and normal neurons” was published in Nature. The diversity and complexity of the human brain are thought to be encoded within a constant genome — the complete set of genetic material present in a cell or organism. In 2015, however, a study showed that neurons from people with sporadic Alzheimer’s, the most common form of the disease, had a higher DNA content and more copies of the amyloid-β precursor protein (APP) gene when compared to neurons from people without the disease. Neurons were shown to undergo genetic recombination (where their DNA is rearranged into new forms) and exhibited somatic variability, i.e., genomic mosaicisms where two or more populations of cells have different genomes. This is in contrast with what oc
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