Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia in older people and is projected to become a major health burden as the population of the United States ages. Currently more than five million Americans are thought to have the disease, but by the year 2050 that number is estimated to reach 15 million. Although there is currently no cure or therapy that alters the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, there are many research efforts underway that may one day develop effective treatments.
For most diseases, genetics certainly plays a large part, but the effect of any particular genetic variant associated with those diseases is usually small. Alzheimer’s disease is a little different — there is one genetic variant, known as the ε4 variant in the gene APOE, that has a relatively strong effect on risk in European populations (more research is needed to establish the variant’s effect on risk in other ethnicities). Alzheimer’s disease is still a complex disease, however, and there are many other factors that play a role, both genetic and non-genetic.
23andMe is pleased to announce that we are now able to provide individuals with important information about their risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Our Alzheimer’s Disease report includes the well-established APOE ε4 variant, with risk estimates applicable to individuals with European ancestry. It also includes detailed background information on the disease and known risk factors, and an informational video to help viewers understand the disease and the impact of the different variants of the APOE gene. The report does not currently include information about other genetic variants with smaller effects on Alzheimer’s disease risk, or risk estimates applicable to non-European populations, though we may add these in the future.
As the ability to provide data on APOE variants was made possible through the move to our latest genotyping platform (v3), existing v2 customers must first upgrade to the v3 platform in order to receive a risk estimate for Alzheimer’s disease. (Not sure whether you need to upgrade? Don’t worry — the report will tell you!) And because we recognize that Alzheimer’s disease is a serious, incurable condition and that some individuals may not wish to know their APOE-related Alzheimer’s disease risk, we allow all users to make an informed choice in whether they wish to view these results.
Current customers can view the Alzheimer’s Disease report and choose whether to see their results here (or decide whether to upgrade, if needed). Even if you choose not to see your results, you can still view all of the accompanying information about the disease and its genetics. If you are not a customer, you can view a sample version of this report here or visit our store.