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Alabama’s HudsonAlpha uses data from genomic sequencing to help patients better understand their dementia

The HudsonAlpha Institute in Huntsville announced Tuesday via a press release that their researchers had used information derived from studying genetic data to better and more thoroughly inform patients with early-onset dementia what their condition will entail. They recently published their findings in the scientific journal Molecular Case Studies.

Support from Daniel Foundation of Alabama allowed patients from the UAB Memory Disorders Clinic to undergo genetic sequencing. Following the UAB sequencing, a genetic counselor from HudsonAlpha walked them through their results with the goal of increasing the patient’s understanding of what their genome shows about how the disease will affect their life.

The project was led by Nick Cochran, Ph.D., in the Myers Lab.
“Both caregivers and people living with these devastating diseases are appreciative of receiving some kind of answer when we are able to provide it,” said Cochran. “For some patients, we are able to indicate with near certainty that there is a genetic cause to their disease, and for others, we identify risk factors that don’t fully explain their symptoms. Either way, the findings shed some light where they previously had no answers at all.”

According to HudsonAlpha, the researchers “knew that collecting and sequencing samples from early-onset patients could identify risk factors and early warning signs. Finding relevant genes has the potential to help with development of diagnostics and treatment tools.”

The researchers also felt that through this genomic information they could provide more context and information for the people in their care. As reported by HudsonAlpha, “the average age of onset for patients in the study is 54.”

The release adds, “More than 85% of them have some family history of dementia, and half of them have a strong family history. Diagnoses ranged from Alzheimer’s disease to frontotemporal dementia. In short, most of these patients were afflicted at a young age and have evidence that their family members are also at risk.”

Additionally, according to HudsonAlpha, “patients have more information if they want to get their families tested to see if they do harbor one of the near-certain disease-causing genetic changes, which can sometimes also qualify them for clinical trials.”

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: [email protected] or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

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