November 26, 2007

Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals Case Medical Center investigate potential limitations of genetic testing in development of Alzheimer's

Now recruiting participants to help study the impact of knowing whether they have genetic predisposition


Researchers at the University Memory and Aging Center at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals Case Medical Center are conducting a multi-site, National Institutes of Health-funded study of genetic risk assessment for Alzheimer's disease that likely will help uncover the promise--and perils--of personalized genetic medicine.

The center is looking for a total of 70 people to participate in the study in which subjects will be tested for a genetic variation that has been associated with increased risk for Alzheimer's. Subjects are followed for one year to determine the psychological and behavioral impact of knowing whether they have the genetic risk factor.

"In addition to helping people manage the risks associated with Alzheimer's disease, this study also may begin to address potential limitations of personalized genetic medicine," said Peter J. Whitehouse, professor of neurology at Case Western Reserve and UH, and lead investigator. "We can test individuals for a genetic marker that indicates they are at higher risk to develop the disease but whether that knowledge adds value to patient care or quality of life--be it psychological or behavioral, for the patient or caretakers--is what this research will help to uncover."

Currently participants range in age from 20 to nearly 70 years old, come mostly from Ohio and are involved in various stages of this study. The center needs additional male participants of any age and women over the age of 60.

Researchers are primarily working with participants who have a parent or sibling who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and who are interested in learning more about their own risk, but who are not currently experiencing dementia. However, they also are seeking participants who do not have a parent or sibling with Alzheimer's disease.

The study includes a series of visits, interviews, a meeting with a genetic counselor and a blood draw for the genotyping.

Case Western Reserve and UH are collaborating with the University of Michigan, Howard University and Boston University on this initiative funded through the National Human Genome Research Institute and the National Institute on Aging. Funding to Case Western Reserve for this study has reached nearly $900,000 since 1999.

For more information or to participate in the study, contact Melissa Butson, research genetic counselor at the University Memory and Aging Center and an investigator on this study, at (216) 844-6329.

For more information contact Laura M. Massie, 216-368-4442.

Posted by: Kimyette Finley, November 26, 2007 10:18 AM | News Topics: Collaborations/Partnerships, Community Outreach, Faculty, Grants, HeadlinesMain, Provost Initiatives, Research, School of Medicine, School of Medicine

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