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Israeli scientists discover substance that may fend off Alzheimer's, Aging and Parkinson's

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 3rd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

So far it has only been tested on worms, but Israeli researchers say a newly discovered material under development inhibits the aging process and could possibly prevent degenerative diseases without affecting lifespan.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Hebrew University researchers tested the new material on worms. The boffins say that this is the first substance that shows potential to treat or prevent diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's.

IGF1, a pathway known to be a central controller of the aging process in worms and mammals, can potentially be used as a treatment for degenerative brain diseases. As funded by the British Rosetrees Trust, the study reinforces the claim that blocking the signaling pathway of insulin and the growth hormone IGF1, the researchers say.

Led by Dr. Ehud Cohen of Hebrew University's Faculty of Medicine, the new findings are the first evidence that a pharmacological substance can effectively protect against toxicity of proteins associated with neuro-degenerative diseases, through selective inhibition of the aging process. Confident of the new process, the researchers have registered a patent for their discovery.

Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's, all degenerative diseases cause different types of damage to the nervous system. All three belong to the dementia category and share two common features: They develop as a result of the accumulation of proteins that have lost their normal structure and whose folding process has been damaged; and they tend to develop at an advanced age. This suggests that the process of aging suppresses the activity of defense mechanisms that prevent the accumulation of these toxic proteins.

Degenerative brain diseases are typically diagnosed during the seventh decade of life. Patients with familial mutations that predispose them to these diseases do not show symptoms before their fifth decade. Therefore, one of the central questions in the study of dementia diseases is why these illnesses don't present themselves at younger ages.

Cohen notes that the ability to extend the lifespan of simple organisms like worms and mice by inhibiting aging factors has been known since the Nineties.

"What we examined in our study did not touch directly on extending life expectancy. We tried to test whether slowing the aging process by inhibiting the insulin/IGF signaling pathway can protect against the toxic proteins that cause human neuro-degenerative diseases," Cohen says.

Cohen's teams have discovered that inhibiting the insulin/IGF signaling pathway protects the worms from a toxic protein associated with Alzheimer's disease, and that inhibiting this pathway also protects mice from behavioral disorders and the pathological symptoms of a disease that resembles Alzheimer's.

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