The Roche healthcare group in Basel announced on Friday that a partner firm, deCODE genetics of Iceland, had successfully mapped a new gene that contributes to the common form of Alzheimer's disease.
A communiqué from Roche said the gene was located through a study involving 1,100 Icelandic patients and their unaffected relatives.
"This finding underscores the role of genetics... and represents a critical milestone on the way to identifying a gene and its disease-linked variants," it said.
Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia in the elderly and affects about five per cent of people over the age of 65. As life expectancy increases, the disease and its associated problems and costs are becoming a growing burden to public health systems.
Although progress has been made during the past decade in the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer's disease, there is still no cure.
"We are very impressed by the rapid progress made by deCODE genetics towards identifying genes that play important roles in the molecular pathology of common diseases," said Jonathan Knowles, head of global research at Roche.
In March, Roche announced that deCODE scientists had mapped a gene linked to stroke.
swissinfo with agencies
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