The goal of the National Cell Repository for Alzheimer’s Disease (NCRAD) is to help researchers find genes that increase the risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and dementia. To accomplish this goal, in 1990, NCRAD was funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) to provide researchers with the biological samples and data necessary for finding important genetic factors in AD and dementia. Understanding the causes of AD and dementia will likely lead to better treatments for this devastating disease.
Dementia and memory loss are devastating disorders which become more common as an individual ages. AD is the most common form of dementia among older persons. Beyond age 85, as many as 40% of individuals have AD. As the population of the US continues to age, the number of individuals affected with AD will continue to rise. It is estimated that by the year 2050, there will be 14 million persons over the age of 65 affected with AD.
While relatively rare, AD can also have a much earlier onset, with a diagnosis occurring when an individual is only in their thirties or forties. Many people with early-onset AD have a parent or grandparent who also developed AD at a younger age. Several genes have been identified that play a role in early-onset AD.
Many factors are thought to influence whether or not an individual will develop AD. These may include genetic (inherited) factors or nongenetic factors, such as where a person has lived, their occupation, and other lifestyle choices.
The NIA, a branch of the National Institute on Health (NIH), is committed to determining the causes of AD so that more effective therapies can be developed to treat people with this devastating disorder. To help identify the genes that play a role in the development of AD, the NIA has funded NCRAD as a national resource where clinical information and biological material (DNA, plasma, serum, RNA and brain tissue) can be stored from individuals with AD as well as from individuals without any symptoms of memory loss or dementia.
To help identify the genes contributing to the risk for AD, a number of different studies are currently ongoing. These include studies enrolling families with multiple members diagnosed with AD, as well as individuals without a strong family history of AD.