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B. A Gene Related to a Common Dementia

Narrator: This is Science Today. A mutated gene has been linked to several neurodegenerative diseases. Kirk Wilhelmsen, a professor of neurology at the University of California, San Francisco says this gene produces tau protein, which is most commonly found in frontotemporal dementia.

Wilhelmson: Frontotemporal dementia is a dementing illness like Alzheimer's Disease in which there's a deterioration of function but the pattern of how the function begins is different. It probably is the second most important cause of dementia and it turns out that when you have frontotemporal dementia, it's much more likely that you'll have another family member with that disease than if you have Alzheimer's Disease.

Narrator: Because the tau gene has a very complex regulation, which involves several other genes, researchers are looking to find out just what those genes are.

Wilhelmsen: It's hopeful that if we can find drugs that affect these interactions and effect the biology of the tau gene, then in fact we can treat more than one disease. In fact, maybe many diseases.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.