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Researchers at Ben-Gurion University, funded by the Israeli Ministry of Science and Space have made a major medical breakthrough. They’ve discovered the lack of a protein that seemingly is behind the cellular damage causing Alzheimer’s, and possibly other types of dementia.

Alzheimer’s is a horrible disease the victim’s body still works but their mind shuts down. And it’s not just their memory…it’s their personality also. My wife’s mom died of the disease and as the affliction progressed this extremely gentle woman had episodes of aggression. Sadly, my father-in-law had to go through it again as his second wife also died of the disease. In her case, my wife’s dad took his wife to be checked because this woman who was normally difficult to everyone except my father-in-law, began to act pleasant to everyone.

The researchers at  Ben-Gurion University have determined that the protein SIRT6 is almost completely absent in Alzheimer’s disease patients and likely contributes to its onset. Scientists believe that the body’s failure to implement the processes to completely repair its DNA is what causes the disease and the Israeli discovery suggests that the lack of SIRT6 may cause the stunted cellular repair.

 

The BGU researchers have determined in mouse models that high levels of SIRT6 facilitate DNA repair while low levels enable DNA damage accumulation. The researchers also tested their hypothesis on neurodegenerative diseases besides Alzheimer’s, and found that a deficiency of the SIRT6 protein was also present in patients.

According to lead author Dr. Deborah Toiber of the BGU Department of Life Sciences, “If a decrease in SIRT6 and lack of DNA repair is the beginning of the chain that ends in neurodegenerative diseases in seniors, then we should be focusing our research on how to maintain production of SIRT6 and avoid the DNA damage that leads to these diseases.”

I hope they find out how to maintain production of SIRT6 relatively quickly. My dad of blessed memory, who passed away at age 90 a bit more than six months ago (just before Election Day) suffered from dementia not related to Alzheimer’s the last two years of his life. His father suffered from the same kind of dementia for over a decade before he died.  Thanks to genetics, chances are that I will suffer from the same affliction.

 

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