It is always sad to see a person affected by Alzheimer’s disease. A person whose brain once functioned normally now continues to lose brain cells at a rapid pace. It comes to the point where a person can no longer carry out a normal lifestyle. Scientists have been striving to discover what it is causes Alzheimer’s for quite some time now. Since then, the gene type APOE4 has been linked to the development of the disease. Young individuals with this gene were recently studied by scientists in Britain and it has been found that their brains patterns were different. This shows that even before developing the disease, the brain works differently in people with the APOE4 gene type. “When they did a memory task, the APOE4 carriers had more activity in a part of the brain called the hippocampus, which is involved in long-term memory and navigation and which is the first area known to be affected in Alzheimer's disease” (Fox). The memory part of the brain in APOE4 carriers works harder even when asked to do nothing. This has led scientists to believe that Alzheimer’s develops because the memory part of the brain is overworked. The gene type is not particularly rare. About one fourth of the population carries APOE4. Although not everyone with the APOE4 gene type develops the disease, those with one copy of the gene have four times the risk while those with two copies are ten times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. With further research, scientists eventually hope to be able to give a test that will determine whether or not a person will develop Alzheimer’s disease in the future.
Fox, Maggie. "Alzheimer's gene changes brain early, study finds." Reuters. 08 Wed 2009. 12 Apr 2009