Our genes influence illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, depression, and Alzheimer's. A recent study involved two researchers working to find out which genes affect people’s risk for certain diseases. During their research, they saw that there is a genetic region that is protective against Alzheimer’s disease. They used the method of admixture mapping to find the genetic causes of the disease. Specifically, they applied this method to a population of Caribbean Hispanic people who have a mix of Native American, African, and European ancestry. In doing so, these researchers found that individuals with Native American ancestry were less prone to developing Alzheimer’s disease. That said, simply identifying as or looking Native American does not protect against the disease. One must have Native American ancestry at a specific point in the genome to be less susceptible to the disease.
While this research may not lead to the cure for Alzheimer’s, this research is incredibly helpful to understanding the disease, its causes, treatments, and why certain ethnicities are more or less prone to this debilitating condition.