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The Kensington Reston Presents: Dementia Genetics – How Family History Affects Brain Health

The Kensington Reston is committed to Our Promise to love and care for your family as we do our own.

A fundamental part of adhering to this Promise is to provide insightful and educational events open to anyone struggling with dementia issues in their family.

To that end, we are thrilled to announce our upcoming free online event, “Know Your Genes: How Family History Affects Brain Health.”

In partnership with the Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Research and Care at UCLA, we’ll delve into the impact of family history on brain health, with a special focus on neurodegenerative diseases.

Join us for this invaluable learning experience featuring expert speakers who will give insight into the latest research and clinical research into these intricate neurological conditions.

Event details

  • Date: June 7, 2023
  • Time: 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM EDT
  • Location: Online (Zoom)
  • Cost: Free

RSVP for this free and informative event to reserve your spot.

Introducing our expert speakers

This virtual event will showcase two esteemed experts in the field of neurodegenerative diseases.

Dr. Kacie Deters

Dr. Deters earned her Ph.D. in Medical Neuroscience from Indiana University in 2017, focusing on the use of neuroimaging and genetics to study the neural features of tauopathies, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

During her postdoctoral work at Stanford University, she received an RCMAR Scientist Award and investigated ethnic and racial disparities in Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers. Dr. Deters furthered her training at the University of California, San Diego, where she explored the racial biases present in neuropsychological assessments.

In 2022, she was appointed as a tenure-track Assistant Professor at UCLA, where she continues investigating the interplay between genetics, social and environmental factors, and their contributions to cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.

Her research methods include genetics, neuroimaging, neuropsychological assessments, and fluid-based biomarkers.

Dr. Jessica Rexach

Dr. Rexach is an Assistant Professor of Neurology at UCLA and the John Douglas French Alzheimer’s Foundation Endowed Chair. Her research focuses on identifying the mechanisms behind dementia, with the goal of developing effective therapeutics.

Dr. Rexach’s lab combines multi-omic, single-cell, and genomics techniques with experimental disease modeling to study the neuronal-glial and neuroimmune processes involved in dementia.

By investigating these complex interactions, Dr. Rexach aims to advance our understanding of dementia and contribute to the development of novel treatments for this debilitating condition.

Together, Dr. Deters and Dr. Rexach will provide valuable insights into the relationship between family history, genetics, and brain health, as well as discuss the role of genetics in dementia diseases, including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s disease, FTD, and others.

Exploring the connection between genetics and dementia diseases

Dementia is a commonly used term used to describe various symptoms affecting memory, thinking, and social abilities, severely impacting daily functioning.

While there are many types of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent form, accounting for 50-70% of all cases. Your genetics might play a significant role in the development of dementia, with some forms having a stronger genetic component than others.

Genetic factors in dementia

Genetic factors can influence an individual’s risk of developing dementia. However, researchers emphasize that not all forms of dementia are solely caused by genetics.

A combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors can contribute to the development of these degenerative diseases. The genetic component varies depending on the type of dementia, with some forms having a more substantial genetic link than others.

Familial Alzheimer’s disease

Familial Alzheimer’s disease is a rare form of early-onset Alzheimer’s that affects individuals under the age of 65. It accounts for fewer than 5% of all Alzheimer’s cases and has a strong genetic link.

Researchers identified mutations in three genes (APP, PSEN1, and PSEN2) as one of the causes of familial Alzheimer’s disease. These mutations are inherited through something called an autosomal dominant pattern—meaning that inheriting one copy of the mutated gene from either parent is sufficient to develop the disease.

Late-Onset Alzheimer’s disease

Late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, which typically affects individuals aged 65 and older, is the most common form of the disease. The genetic component of late-onset Alzheimer’s is complex, involving multiple genes with varying effects on disease risk.

The apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene, particularly its ε4 variant, is a well-known genetic risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer’s. However, carrying the APOE ε4 variant does not guarantee that an individual will develop Alzheimer’s, nor does the absence of the variant mean they will not.

Other forms of dementia

Other forms of dementia—frontotemporal dementia (FTD), Lewy body dementia (LBD), or vascular dementia—also have genetic components.

In FTD, around 30-50% of cases have a family history of the disease, and particular gene mutations, such as those in the MAPT and GRN genes, have been identified.

LBD is less understood. But researchers believe that genetic factors may contribute to the development of this debilitating disease as well.

Vascular dementia—often created by reduced blood flow to the brain—has a weaker genetic link, with risk factors such as hypertension and diabetes playing more significant roles in its development.

Dementia genetics—testing and counseling

Genetic testing for dementia-related genes is available but often complex and not recommended for everyone.

Individuals considering genetic testing should consult with a genetic counselor to understand the potential benefits, limitations, and psychological implications of test results.

Ongoing research

Researchers continue to investigate the genetic basis of dementia to better understand the underlying mechanisms and identify additional genetic risk factors. This ongoing research aims to improve diagnostic tools, develop targeted treatments, and explore preventive strategies for various forms of dementia.

Join us in expanding our knowledge of family history and brain health

At The Kensington Reston, we are dedicated to providing our residents and their families with the support and resources needed to navigate the challenges of neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and other forms of dementia.

Taking care of your loved ones goes beyond our rehabilitation services, dedication to excellent nutrition, and three levels of dementia care—because we believe knowledge is also an invaluable resource.

At our free online event, you’ll gain valuable knowledge about the latest research in dementia genetics and the importance of understanding your family history in maintaining brain health.

We look forward to welcoming you to our informative and engaging event.

To register, please visit Reston’s event registration page.

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