Narrator: This is Science Today. Researchers
at the University of California, San Francisco have
identified a gene which may be associated with the
onset of Alzheimer's Disease. Neurologist Kirk Wilhelmsen,
who led the study, found three mutations in a gene
which produces tau protein. This has been found
to cause several neurodegenerative disorders, including
frontotemporal lobe dementia. What's interesting
to scientists is that the tau protein has long been
a suspected factor in Alzheimer's Disease.
Wilhelmsen: In Alzheimer's Disease, the tau
protein clumps up in tangles called neurofibliary
tangles and these are a marker that's used to make
the diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease.
Narrator: Before this finding, clumps of
tau protein were thought to be a marker of brain
cells dying, rather than an actual cause.
Wilhelmsen: We don't think that mutations
in the tau gene cause Alzheimer's Disease, but we
think that the tau gene is involved in the process
that leads to Alzheimer's Disease as well as other
diseases and sometimes, the cause is actually a
mutation of the tau gene.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa