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Memory gene discovery holds promise for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s cure

Thursday October 26, 2006

October 20, 2006 (SAWF News) - In what is being termed as a breakthrough in medical science, the discovery of a gene linked to human memory may pave the way for developing new medicines for diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Researchers at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) in Phoenix, Arizona have used the Affymetrix 500K Array to discover a gene called Kibra, which is associated with memory performance in humans, and will help scientists better understand human memory functions.

The study entitled, ‘Common KIBRA alleles are associated with human memory performance,’ will be published in the latest issue of Science.

"Using the latest Affymetrix 500K Array, we have shed light on the fundamental biological process of human memory performance," said Dr. Dietrich Stephan, director of TGen’s Neurogenomics Division.

"We can use this new understanding to develop drugs that will improve memory function," Dr. Stephen added.

Until now researchers did not have access to the high-density technology needed to examine the genetic components associated with memory performance.

But the team at TGen used Affymetrix Human Mapping 500K Arrays to analyze 500,000 DNA markers simultaneously, providing a genetic blueprint for the memory-study participants.

The researchers discovered the Kibra gene by comparing the genetic blueprints of people with good memory vs. poor memory and looking for the genetic variations consistently present in one group, but not the other. They then validated their discovery by replicating the Kibra gene finding in two separate and distinct groups of subjects.

"This memory study is a perfect example of how the use of advanced technologies in human genetics yields fundamental discoveries," said Stephen P.A. Fodor, Ph.D., chairman and CEO at Affymetrix. (ANI)