With the aging of western society the contribution to morbidity of diseases of the elderly, such as dementia, will increase exponentially. Thorough preventative and curative strategies are needed to constrain the increasing prevalence of these disabling diseases. Better understanding of the pathogenesis of disease will enable development of therapy, prevention and the identification of high-risk groups in the population. Here, we review the genetic epidemiology of Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of dementia in the western world. The search for genetic risk factors, though far from completed, has been of major importance for understanding the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease. Although effective therapy is still awaited, these findings have led to new avenues for the development of drugs.
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