Neurological Genetic Testing for those 65+
Clear Bridge Biomedics offers at-home neurological genetic testing for patients 65 and older. When you order this test, we will send the testing kit directly to your doorstep. Simply follow the instructions included in the kit and perform a cheek swab. Then package up your genetic sample and return it by mail to our lab. A team of expert medical scientists will test your sample for the relevant genes and return the results to you and your medical professional as soon as possible.
What is Neurological Genetic Testing?
Neurological genetic testing is a way for doctors to examine someone’s genetic makeup to discover the root cause of a family disease. There are several different kinds of neurological genetic tests available. Clear Bridge Biomedics tests for genes associated with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s diseases.
Everything in our body is controlled by little bundles of information called genes. When one of those bundles changes (called a mutation), it can cause diseases to present themselves in a person. Because parents can pass their genes down to their children, these genetically linked diseases often can be seen running in families. This is why some diseases, like many neurological diseases, can pass from generation to generation. If you are concerned about your risk for Alzheimer’s, dementia, or Parkinson’s diseases, order a genetic test today.
This test can also help doctors determine who might be most at risk for getting the same genetic disease. Once one member is determined to carry a mutated gene, doctors often recommend other closely related members of the family get tested to identify who carries the gene and who will be most affected by it. If someone else shows the gene, the next closest family members will also get tested. Ideally, this cascade continues until the family doctors have a clear view of who does have the possibility of developing the disease, who simply carries the gene but will not likely ever get sick, and who does not possess the mutated gene. This process is called cascade genetic testing.
What are Genetic Neurological Diseases?
A genetic neurological disease disease is simply a neurological disease, like Alzheimer’s, that is caused by a mutation in someone’s genes. Many neurological conditions can be genetic and can be passed from parent to child. These diseases are not infectious, so they cannot be passed from person to person outside of the parent-child relationship.
Having a mutated gene does not guarantee that someone will develop a genetic disease. Having a mutated gene simply means that someone is much more likely than the average person to develop the condition. There are several reasons someone can develop a neurological disease. Some reasons are environmental, like someone’s cognitive activities or nutrition. Mutated genetics only increases risk for those factors, as well as gives a chance that the person develops the neurological disease without much environmental prompting. As an example, the average person might have a 10% chance to develop Alzheimer’s when experiencing some level of environmental pressure. A person whose genes are mutated might have a 60% chance to cause the person to develop the disease under the same exact circumstances. In addition, someone with an abnormal genetic makeup might develop Alzheimer’s disease without any environmental factors.
Alzheimer’s and Genetics
Alzheimer’s disease can manifest in one of two types, early-onset and late-onset. Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease is primarily genetic, often caused by changes in the APP, PSEN1, and/or PSEN2 genes. Researchers estimate that early-onset Alzheimer’s disease accounts for about 10% of all Alzheimer’s disease cases. While researchers do not entirely know the extent of all genes involved in the acquisition and development of early-onset Alzheimer’s, they know that these three genes are the primary culprits for genetic mutation. There are currently studies being performed to identify other genetic risk variants.
Late-onset Alzheimer’s disease is not primarily genetic and often develops in persons in their mid-60s and later. There is not, at the moment, any direct genetic cause of late-onset Alzheimer’s, however there is a genetic mutation that can increase risk of development. If there are certain mutations in the APOE gene, a person has an increased chance of developing the disease as they get older. There are also versions of the APOE gene that help prevent Alzheimer’s, or at least delay its onset.
Genetic testing for early-onset Alzheimer’s disease is often used to predict which children might be at severe risk of developing the disease. Many families get this type of genetic test when there is a family history of Alzheimer’s or other neurological diseases. The genetic test for late-onset Alzheimer’s looks for increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease through the APOE gene, but cannot directly tell if someone is going to get the disease. Talk to your doctor about the steps you can take to minimize your risk of late-onset Alzheimer’s.
Dementia and Genetics
There are more types of genetics-related dementia than there are genetics-related Alzheimer’s variants. However, dementia also follows the same general rules of Alzheimer’s genetic influences. Broadly, there are two types of genes that influence dementia. First are gene variants. These are not necessarily gene mutations, which are strictly abnormal genes. Instead, there are several types of genes that can come in multiple variations. All variations are working genes, but some can present an increased risk of certain types of dementias. Second are gene mutations, which are abnormal genes that present a much greater risk of dementia. While someone might not develop dementia with a negative gene variant, mutations can create dementia without environmental intervention.
Parkinson’s and Genetics
Scientists believe that about 15% of Parkinson’s disease is caused primarily by genetic influence. With that being said, there seem at present to be no genetic mutations that will cause Parkinson’s without environmental influences being a contributing factor. Genetic variations and mutations can drastically increase one’s risk of Parkinson’s disease. A genetic test for Parkinson’s disease will help you and your family determine who is at an increased risk for the disease.
Who should get a Neurological Genetic Test?
If you suffer from a neurological condition and are concerned about close family members developing the disease, we recommend you take an at-home neurological genetic test. This can help determine if you have a predisposition for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or dementia that you can pass on to children. Additionally, if you are experiencing symptoms of a neurological disease, such as memory loss, cognitive impairment, or strange changes in mood and personality, you might consider ordering a genetic test as well.
Neurological Genetic Testing FAQ
If I test positive, does that mean I have a Neurological disease?
Not necessarily, just that you are at a higher risk for developing a neurological condition. There can be several reasons someone can develop a neurological disease like Alzheimer’s. Some reasons are environmental, like someone’s cognitive stimulation late in life or nutrition health. Mutated genetics only increases risk for those factors, as well as gives a chance that the person develops the neurological without much environmental prompting. As an example, the average person might have a 10% chance to develop Alzheimer’s when experiencing some level of environmental pressure. A person whose genes are mutated might have a 60% chance to cause the person to develop the disease under the same exact circumstances. In addition, someone with an abnormal genetic makeup might develop Alzheimer’s disease without any environmental factors. This is why knowing what your genes say about your body is so important!
Is there any way I can keep from getting a neurological disease if I have the genetic mutation but no symptoms?
Yes, there often are steps you can take to prevent yourself from getting different neurological diseases, even if you have the genetic markers for them! None of these recommendations are guaranteed. If you have the mutation, there is always a chance you simply just develop the disease, but following these steps might lessen the effects and make your body and mind stronger. First, always ask your doctor for information on how to prevent neurological diseases in your own life. They will have more specific recommendations for your own life. Second, often a healthy diet greatly benefits any patient with or concerned about neurological disease. Additionally, social connections and intellectual activity play a major part in the development or prevention of neurological diseases for everyone. Keeping strong social ties to friend and family drastically reduces occurrence rates and strength of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as being able to find something interesting to concentrate on. Third, you might consider light exercise and other heart healthy physical habits to strengthen circulation and overall physical health. There is a connection between heart disease conditions and Alzheimer’s patients, and keeping a strong physical body will help keep the mind stable as well.
How do I know what my results are?
You will have your results returned to you when the test is concluded at Clear Bridge Biomedics, but you might not know what to do with them. Most experts recommend contacting a genetic counselor before, during, and after your decision to take a genetic test for several reasons. 1) while there are no inherent physical risks to genetic tests, you may not actually want to know the results. The choice to know is sometimes a difficult one and should be considered thoroughly. 2) Genetic information is very complicated and not easily understood by the average person looking at a results spreadsheet. Genetic counselors help everyday people interpret the results in helpful and relevant ways, leading to informed medical decisions.