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Is brain damage from Alzheimer's due to lack of clock gene?

Few diseases have more irrevocable consequences than Alzheimer's disease. Once the disease begins it inexorable progress, it is only a matter of time before the individual is left disabled and incapable of working at any job. Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) provides benefits to workers in Ohio who are disabled because of a mental or physical impairment.

Many of those afflicted with Alzheimer's disease are not eligible for SSDI because the disease, fortunately, tends to appear after age 65, which is the upward limit for SSDI benefits. 

However, Alzheimer's can appear in younger individuals, and is all the more devastating, often taking them in the prime of their careers and quickly leaving them totally disabled. This is why Early-Onset Alzheimer's is one of the impairments that qualify for the SSA's compassionate allowances.

The incidence of Alzheimer's is expected to increase in the next few decades, so medical research to understand this disease and to develop treatments is vital. A recent study has found that a gene that controls internal clocks can have an effect on the development of Alzheimer's-like brain damage in mice.

The brain usually produces an increased amount of an enzyme in the midday hours that appears to clean up free radicals within the brain. When the gene that controlled the internal clock is not functioning, this antioxidant enzyme is not produced and brain damage that looks like that suffered by Alzheimer's victims develops.

If Alzheimer's is in part due to a similar disabling of an internal clock gene, it could be possible to restart that function and improve the ability of the brain to cleanse itself of the dangerous free radicals.

Source: HuffingtonPost.com, "Disabling Internal Clock Gene Leads To Alzheimer's-Like Brain Damage, Mouse Study Shows," November 27, 2013

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