Greek myth of Klotho may hold key to unlocking dementia

Greek myth of Klotho may hold key to unlocking dementia

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SAN DIEGO, May 13, 2014 — Klotho, the Greek mythological goddess of fate, was believed to be the one who could cleverly “spin the threads of life.”

That mythological belief may soon become a modern-day reality in the treatment of dementia.

In a study partially funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), researchers at the University of California San Francisco discovered Klotho, a variant longevity gene KL-VS.

Studying over 700 persons age 52 to 85, those with one copy of the naturally occurring genetic variant KL-VS were found to have greater thinking, learning and cognitive abilities regardless of any genetic predisposition for developing dementia.

Additionally, researchers believe there are increased IQs in those possessing the gene, possibly by as much as 3%.

Multiple of copies of the KL-VS variant or its gradual declining levels could be indicative of decreasing cognitive abilities and increasing disease processes caused by aging.

Photo courtesy of National Institutes of Health
Photo courtesy of National Institutes of Health

According to Szana Petanceska, Ph.D, program director in NIH’s Division of Neuroscience, “Understanding the factors that control the levels and activity of Klotho across multiple organ systems may open new therapeutic avenues for prevention of age-related cognitive decline and dementia.”

This is exciting news for the estimated 35.6 million people worldwide suffering from some form of dementia, with estimates of continued growth as high as 65.7 million by 2030.

Given the unprecedented growth of the aging population in America, known as the Silver Tsunami, 10,000 persons will turn 65 every day by 2020.

Dementia Care Central demonstrates that the rates of Dementia occurring in the United States will increase with the advancement of age, affecting the following percentages of the aging populations:

-Age 71-79: 5%

-Age 80-89: 24%

-Age 90 and over: 34%

Dementia is a progressive brain disease which causes cognitive impairment.

There are a variety of health conditions which mimic dementia such as depression, thyroid disorders, vitamin deficiencies, medication side effects, and the like, which could be reversed if properly treated.

For victims of non-reversible dementia, each day of their lives can be progressively more difficult as memory loss, confusion, disorientation and continuous decline in capacity to perform essential activities of daily living slowly reduces their quality of life.

Simple daily tasks such as preparing meals, bathing, dressing, grocery shopping, engaging in outings and other activities will eventually require some form of assistance to accomplish, until at last, they are completely overtaken by the dreadful disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia and oftentimes strikes more women than men.

Of the more than 5 million Americans stricken with Alzheimer’s, approximately two-thirds of them are women, according to the Alzheimer’s Organization.

In fact, once a woman is in her 60’s she has a 1 in 6 chance of developing Alzheimer’s.

As the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, it is also the most costly disease condition plaguing our society, according to the Alzheimer’s Organization.

They estimate that the financial costs of treating Alzheimer’s in the United States in health care expenditures throughout 2014 is staggering and projected as follows:

-Medicare: $113 billion

-Medicaid: $37 billion

-Out of Pocket: $36 billion

-Other: $28 billion

Dementia portends to be a major, age-related epidemic with serious consequences for human and financial capital.

The Greek fate "Clotho," photo courtesy of Sam Lehman
The Greek fate “Clotho,” photo courtesy of Sam Lehman

With the research discovery of Klotho, there is hope for the possibility of preventing and stopping the progression of dementia.

According to Roderick Corriveau, Ph.D, program director at NIH’s Institute ofNeurological Disorders and Stroke, “Although preliminary, they (research findings) suggest that a form of Klotho could be used to enhance cognition for people suffering from dementia.”

Taking it a step further, it would be ideal if humans were routinely tested genetically for the prevalence of dementia, assessed for their risk factors based on outcomes, then appropriately offered treatment options which could potentially prevent it altogether–or, stop it from progressing if the disease process already began.

What hopeful threads of life to spin for those who would fall victim to this most debilitating disease!

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Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!

Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, is a health care provider of over 30 years. As a featured “Communities Digital News” columnist, LifeCycles with Laurie Edwards-Tate emphasizes healthy aging and maintaining independence, while delighting and informing its readers. Laurie is a recognized expert in home and community-based, long-term care services, and is also an educator.

In addition to writing for “Communities Digital News,” Laurie is the President and CEO of her firm, At Your Home Familycare, which serves persons of all ages who are disabled and infirm with a variety of non-medical, in-home care and concierge services.

Copyright © 2014 by At Your Home Familycare

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Laurie Edwards-Tate
Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, President and Founder of At Your Home Familycare in San Diego, California, was among the first to recognize the growing need for services allowing individuals to remain independent created by the aging of America including the Baby Boomer generation, now being called the “Silver Tsunami.” It is the Baby Boomers who are rapidly redefining what aging and growing older means and looks like in America today. Now celebrating its 28th year in business, AYHF is among San Diego County’s Top Women-Owned Businesses and Fastest Growing Businesses, and enjoys a reputation for upholding the highest possible standards among its employees and its emphasis on customer service. Edwards-Tate is a valued contributor to the public dialogue on current issues and challenges in the home care industry, and serves in leadership roles on the Home Care Aide Association of America Advisory Board and Private Duty Home Care Association Advisory Board, as well as the Home Care Aide Steering Committee of the California Association for Health Services at Home. Edwards-Tate is frequently interviewed in the media on healthy aging, caregiving, and health care topics. Follow Laurie and AYHF at; on Facebook at, and Twitter at @AYHFamilycare