The CHARGE Consortium undertake the largest ever study of the genetics of memory. Meta-analysis reveals genetic variants associated with memory loss.

An international research team have uncovered two genetic variants believed to be associated with memory loss. The findings are a result of the largest study of the genetics of memory ever undertaken, which has been published in the journal of Biological Psychiatry. The study was carried out by the Cohorts for Heart and Ageing Research in Genomic Epidemiology (CHARGE) Consortium. The consortium was formed to facilitate genome-wide association study meta-analyses and replication opportunities among multiple large and well-phenotypes longitudinal studies.

The study tested nearly 30,000 participants through various memory exercises. The results of the tests were analysed against the participants’ genotypes, to find genetic links to low memory scores.

The key finding of the study was the identification of genetic variants near a gene associated with increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, which were associated with poor test scores. This represents an encouraging step towards increasing our understanding of dementia, and being able to identify those who may be most at risk. The study also shows the significant strength of meta-analysis, having previously published a similar study on Parkinson’s disease in Nature Genetics early this year.