Winnipeg Jewish Review Article - "Hebrew U Prof: In Order To Understand Alzehimer's Disease You Have To Think Of Chicken Soup"

by Rhonda Spivak, posted Dec 20, 2011

In order to understand Alzheimer’s disease, you have to think of chicken soup!

When you make chicken soup, you get all those oil drops that start to form together until you get one big glob of fatty oil. This happens when the oil drops form aggregates.

chicken soupEhud CohenWhen proteins in a person's cells, like oil drops in chicken soup, form aggregates this is the beginning of Alzheimer’s disease, according to Prof. Ehud Cohen, of the Hebrew University.

After that Cohen's lecture was very difficult for me to follow since I don't make chicken soup very often, (my mother always drops hers off at my doorstep) and furthermore I began to get confused while listening to the lecture as to whether I was writing a recipe column or a medical heath article.

Seriously, Cohen is a very bright guy, (much more than I) and I'd love to taste his chicken soup, but alas I digress.

Cohen explained that sporadic Alzheimer’s which is not familial related exhibits itself in a person's seventh decade, whereas familial cases emerge during the fifth and sixth decade. ( I began counting on my fingers to figure out what he meant)

"Alzheimer’s affects men and women alike", Cohen said,  (just like chicken soup I thought to myself).

Not only that, but f you live to age 85 (keinahora), you have 50% chance of getting Alzheimer’s (not a great statistic but not so bad I thought since there's a good chance a few of your friends will also have it)

Research has shown that if you can slow the neurological onset of aging, you can slow Alzheimer’s. There are three independent pathways that regulate a person's aging and lifespan: dietary restrictions, activity, and the insulin like growth factor (IGF ) signaling pathway.

When Cohen said this I realized that instead of trying to decipher his scientific explanations which were getting pretty complicated (my science teacher at Joseph Wolinsky Collegiate was Tom Blair, and we did little experiments with Bunsen burners.  Need I say more?) it would have been better for me to have reduced my aging process by going to exercise rather than figuring how to take proper notes during his lecture.

"By slowing down the activity of this IGF pathway, we can slow down aging to the benefit of the individual," Cohen said. In other words scientist are finding a way to try to freeze the insulin like growth factor--or to shut it off, and then the aging process is slowed.

Cohen's research using worms showed that reducing the insulin signaling pathway delayed the worm's aging process (in Tom Blair's class we never could have experimented on worms unless they were kosher.)

Cohen has conducted similar experiments with mice, since they are mammals (like humans), to see if the same process can be found to apply to them. And lo and behold it does.

So the long and the short of it is that hopefully in the next 10 years or so, a drug will be developed that will slow down the aggregation of proteins by slowing the insulin like growth factor.

In the meantime, what I learned from Cohen is that I should rest my brain and get outside and exercise more, and eat less fatty chicken soup.

And strangely enough, I figured that Faith Kaplan , President of the Winnipeg Chapter of Hebrew U could have told me the same thing without all the fancy scientific words--although Faith herself has tried to convince me that if I talk as fast as she does, I will burn calories, just as if I were running down the block. So far I haven't been entirely successful--in talking as fast as she does)

As for Sharon Zalik, I'm not sure how well she was following the lecture because at the end of the evening she was busy offering me all the left over chocolate chip cookies---who could eat after Cohen explained how the cookies will increase chances of type 2 diabetes, and people with type 2 diabetes are more likely to get Alzheimer’s!

Anyhow Ehud, I am not sure that I have done your lecture justice but probably for the rest of my life every time I look at oil drops in chicken soup aggregating I will think of you (fondly!) and hope that you are well on your way to producing that drug to break down the aggregates.

And one final thing that Ehud mentioned--he has the patent on his research related discoveries --smart thinking Ehud!

As for Zalik--where are my cookies!  I never got any.

Update: Received an email from Sharon Zalik.  Cookies are in Leora Solomon's freezer.  

Editor's Question: Are they [the cookies] insured?

Research Topic

Alzheimer's Disease

Many families have had to go through the pain of watching a loved one suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. This devastating disease, which worsens over time, robs people of their ability to remember things, make decisions, and so much more.