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After 12 years of research, a multidisciplinary group of Cuban doctors have discovered that there are at least five genes can suffer alterations that cause Alzheimer disease.

«The study allowed us to learn that there are also genes that predispose people to suffer from this disease.The fact that a person has one of the most risky variants of suffering from the disease doesnt mean that they are going to invariably develop it,» said Dr. Beatriz Marcheco, director of the National Center for Genetic Medicine yesterday on the Round Table TV program.

The specialist also said that although someone may not possess that variant of the high-risk gene, it does not guarantee that they will not suffer from the disease; therefore, close attention must be paid to this gene. This gene has also to do with the carrying of cholesterol and has variants in all the populations that are predisposed not only to Alzheimer, but also to heart diseases very frequent in Cuba.

After studying more than 2,500 Cubans, this team of doctors also determined that those who carry variant four of the gene, have from three to ten times a greater possibility of developing the disease, as has been reported in other countries. «Weve found that people of greater of African ancestry have up to three times greater risk of suffering from the Alzheimer predisposing variant,» said Dr. Marcheco. Fifteen days ago, and with the cooperation of English institutions, this group examined 600 Cubans who were 65 and older.

They confirmed that, on average, any one person involved in the study had 73.8 percent of genes from European ancestry, 16.8 percent from African forebears and up to 9.4 percent from Asian and indigenous genes. «We couldve not have imagined that the geno-map of Cuba still has traces of our indigenous ancestors,» said Dr. Beatriz Marcheco.

A curious finding from the research Dr. Marcheco pointed out is that there are people with light skin who have up to a 72 percent of their genes from African origins, and people with dark skin who have up to 85 percent of their genes from European origins.

«Mixed-race individuals have up to 64 percent of their genetic information from European origin and 31 percent from African origin - with more than twice the information coming from European ancestors than from Africans. This is a warning, because we usually associate skin color with certain disease, but weve learned that genes tell us much more.» One of the biggest hospitals in Great Britain, which provides medical services to 2.7 million British people, only have six specialist in genetics and seven genetic advisors.

Cuba has trained 643 such specialists who work in health care facilities across the entire country.
(Juventud Rebelde)

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