Dementia may begin in womb due to 'DNA spelling errors'
Dementia may begin in the womb when mistakes in DNA store up problems for the future, a study by Cambridge University suggests.
Researchers knew inherited mutations in genes make people more likely to develop diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, but the paper claims those same genes can go haywire even when people do not inherit risky variants from parents.
In samples of the brains of 54 people, 40 of whom had varying forms of dementia, scientists discovered half the subjects had spontaneous flaws in their DNA.
The researchers believe the genetic defects occurred before the subjects were born, while they were embryos growing in the womb.
"These spelling errors arise in our DNA as cells divide, and could explain why so many people develop diseases such as dementia when they have no family history," said author Prof Patrick Chinnery.