Alzheimer’s GeneMatch Aims to Advance Research into Disease Prevention

Margarida Azevedo, MSc avatar

by Margarida Azevedo, MSc |

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GeneMatch, a novel program developed by the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute (BAI), is now identifying and recruiting people interested in participating in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) research studies who are at risk of developing the disease based on their APOE genetic information.

The APOE gene is a genetic factor associated with a higher Alzheimer’s risk and a higher risk of early onset AD. The Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry created the GeneMatch program to match a large group of volunteers, 55 to 75 years old, to research studies based on their genetic information and degree of risk.

The participation process starts with enrollment and consent at the program’s website. Participants are then provided with a cheek swab to determine their APOE type allele (copies of the gene). The GeneMatch team then matches this information to ongoing studies, and informs the participant of research opportunities. The genetic information is not disclosed to the participant and is kept confidential.

“Many families of patients with the disease have felt helpless after hearing about a loved one’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis,” said Pierre Tariot, MD, director at BAI and co-director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative (API). “GeneMatch gives those family members and any individual willing to take part in the fight against Alzheimer’s the opportunity to take action and be part of the movement to end this disease before another generation is lost.”

The program, currently enrolling in the United States, has certain other requirements — participants must reside in the U.S and have no cognitive impairment diagnosis, such as AD, dementia, or mild cognitive impairment, in line with API’s objective of finding Alzheimer’s prevention therapies. More than 180,000 participants are already in the Registry, and the first research program to take advantage of GeneMatch’s recruitment has been identified: the APOE4 Trial. This trial, developed by API and sponsored and funded by Novartis in collaboration with several institutions, including the National Institute on Aging, will determine if two investigational drugs can reduce amyloid proteins levels in the brains of people at high risk of AD development.

Jessica Langbaum, PhD, principal scientist at BAI, associate director of the API, and principal investigator of GeneMatch, said in a press release, “GeneMatch is a novel program created to help accelerate enrollment in Alzheimer’s-related research by matching people based on their APOE genotype. The new program will advance the study of people at different levels genetic risk for Alzheimer’s and help find effective treatments to prevent this devastating disease as soon as possible.”

Maria Carrillo, PhD, chief science officer at the Alzheimer’s Association, added, “With more than five million Americans currently living with Alzheimer’s disease in the United States and this number continuing to be on the rise, innovative research is crucial. The GeneMatch initiative is breaking new ground — leveraging genetic information as part of study recruitment as a way to accelerate the research process.”

GeneMatch plans to expand to other countries. Anyone interested can learn more about the program and its enrollment criteria through this link.