We don’t hear much about Mad Cow Disease anymore (thank goodness), but scientists are studying the human form (Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease) because it has similarities to diseases that affect millions, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS) (NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to these shows).

All of these conditions are associated with a similar type of deformation in the structure of particular proteins that are needed for normal functioning. Dozens of diseases are linked to deformed proteins, including Type II diabetes, emphysema and even cataracts.

After they are formed in the body, each type of protein takes on a distinct shape, in a process called "folding." Failure to fold into the correct shape produces proteins that are often toxic. Cells have ways of getting rid of misformed proteins, but this ability gets weaker as we age, which is why so many of these diseases affect the elderly.

Deformed proteins can’t be turned into "good" ones again, but scientists are trying to stop them from spreading throughout the body (or in the case of diabetes, throughout the pancreas). In the December 4th edition of the Wall Street Journal, Amy Dockser Marcus quotes neurologist Neil R. Cashman as saying, "Arrest it and we can potentially stop the disease."

Marcus quotes neurologist Kurt Giles, who has done experiments with mice that have Alzheimer’s, as saying, "Amyloid-beta protein misfolding triggered the spread of the disease from cell to cell."

Scientists are trying to develop a test for misfolded proteins in the blood and, once those patients are identified, find a way to treat them. Will a test for misfolded proteins eventually become part of your annual checkup?

Anne Strieber discovered she had deformed proteins when she found her clothes were getting too tight. She thought they had all shrunk, until she realized she had gained weight due to Type II diabetes, a genetic condition that manifests in late middle age and makes it easy to gain weight and hard to lose it. She not only discovered WHY some of us have this gene, but what to do about it, and after three years of diet and exercise, she managed to lose 100 pounds. Our download has been REDUCED in price, so that YOU can reduce too!

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