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The mission of a recent Mayo Clinic research project was to predict, prevent, and halt brain aging disorders.

Demetrius Maraganore, M.D., Mayo Clinic, used an unprecedented method to predict brain aging disorders such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease) and Parkinson’s disease. Researchers were able to identify several gene variations (DNA fingerprints) that identified individuals at a high risk for ALS–2,000 times greater than the average. Also, they identified several gene variations that predicted individuals at high risk for Parkinson’s disease–400 times greater than the average.

Maraganore envisions the day when a person at high risk may be identified through a simple blood test. It may be possible to prevent the diseases, slow or halt their progression by developing drugs that target the same disease pathways.