According to experts from the University of Virginia (UVA) School of Medicine and Mount Sinai’s NFL Neurological Program, genetic testing in individuals who have sustained traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) or repeated head injuries may help avert dementia. Steven T. DeKosky, MD, vice president and dean of UVA’s School of Medicine, and Sam Gandy, MD, chair in Alzheimer’s research at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine report that genetic testing may help prevent dementia and reduce the cost of care to treat the disease. 

DeKosky and Gandy suggest that a network of research centers may allow for the collection of data from a wide range of subjects, including high-risk adolescents exposed to brain injuries through sports. The experts add that the data could then be used to createpredictive mathematical models. Dekosky and Gandy also note that data could be obtained from studies currently being assembled, including the National Insititute of Child Health and Development Vanguard Study, which is designed to track the major life events of 100,000 children until the age of 21 years.

In spite of the potential ethical and psychological complexities linked to genetic testing,  experts emphasize that the consideration is a worthwhile challenge, “If lifestyle modifications for [those at genetic risk] such as avoiding high-impact sports or opting for military career that do not put the brain at risk can reduce dementia prevalence in 2050 by even 1%, we would gain an annual savings of $10 billion in costs of care and immeasurable savings in terms of human suffering,” they say.

Source: UVA School of Medicine