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October 24, 2014
 

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PAGE 14A By Abigail Klein Leichman ISRAEL21c--Can the aging process be stopped? Studies in yeast, worms, flies, monkeys, and even humans seem to prove that restricting calories is one of the few sure ways to combat the effects of aging. But who really wants to trade satisfy- ing meals for longevity? Israeli doctoral Keren Yizhak is out to prove that there may be a more agree- able way to achieve long life than dooming ourselves to perpetual hunger. Working in the compu- tational biology laboratory of Prof. Eytan Ruppin at Tel CultUre "' HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, OCTOBER 24, 2014 Turning off the aging process Aviv University's Blavatnik School of Computer Sci- ence, Yizhak and colleagues at Bar-Ilan University have developed a computer algo- rithm that predicts which genes can be "turned off" to create the same anti-aging effect as calorie restriction. Their findings were re- ported in the journal Na- ture Communications, and cou!d someday lead to the development of new phar- maceuticals to slow or stop the aging process. "Most algorithms try to find drug targets that kill cells to treat cancer or bacterial infections," Yizhak explained. "Our algorithm is the first in our field to look for drug targets not to kill cells, but to transform them from a diseased state into a healthy one." Yeast studies correlate to people Her team's algorithm, which she calls a"metabolic transformation algorithm," or MTA, can take informa- tion about any two meta- bolic states and predict the environmental or genetic changes required to go from one state to the other. In the study, Yizhak ap- plied MTA to the genetics of aging. Yeast is the most widely used genetic model because its DNA is, surpris- ingly, similar to human DNA. After using her custom- designed MTA to confirm previous laboratory find- ings, she used it to predict genes that can be "turned off" to make the gene ex- pression of old yeast look like that of young yeast. "Gene expression" is the process in which informa- tion from a gene is used to make a product, usually a protein, inside a cell. Genes can be "turned off" in various ways to prevent them from being expressed in the cell. Some of the genes that the MTA identified were already known to extend the lifespan of yeast when turned off. Of the other genes she found, Yizhak sent seven to be tested at a Bar- Ilan University laboratory. There, researchers Orshay Gabay and Haim Cohen found that turning off two of the genes, GRE3 and ADH2, significantly extends the yeast's lifespan. "You would expect about three percent of yeast's genes to be lifespan-ex- tending," said Yizhak. "So achieving a 10-fold increase over this expected fre- quency, as we did, is very encouraging." Since MTA provides a sys- temic view of cell metabo- lism, it can also shed light on how the genes it identifies contribute to changes in genetic expression. In the case of GRE3 and ADH2, MTA showed that turning off the genes increased oxidative stress levels in yeast. This mild induced stress may be similar to the stress produced by calorie restriction. . Next, Yizhak will study whether turning off the genes predicted by MTA prolongs the lifespan of ge- netically engineered mice. She also theorizes that MTA could be applied to finding drug targets for conditions and diseases where metabolism plays a significant role, including obesity, diabetes, neuro- degenerative disorders and some types of cancer. From page 4A Professor Mordechai Ke- dar provided an amusing example of the type of misun- derstandings that arise out of different culturalassump- tions. In the heady early days of the Oslo process, an economic conference was held in Casablanca to which Israel was invited for the first time. Shimon Peres led a very large Israeli delegation. The point of the delegation was to demonstrate to the Arab delegations Israeli's produc- tivity and creativity as a way of cementing their support for peace. Peace would be a win-win for Israelis and Pal- estinians alike, Peres urged. But that is not the mes- sage the Arabs heard. They saw in,the delegation an Israeli intent to colonize the Arab world. Arabic language papers of the time reported Ebola on Is'ael's desire to take over the Arab world and have the Arabs working for the Jews. For them, Israel's glory could only bring their shame. A thriving Israel is the mirror constantly thrust in the face of the Muslim world reflect- ing back its shame. Apart from the oil taken out of the ground for it by others, the Muslim world produces nothing of marketable value and contributes nothing to civilization. Professor Richard Landes, who chaired the evening, published an article the last week in Tablet Magazine titled "Why the Arab World is Lost in an Emotional Nakba, and How We Keep it There," in which he argued that the Western response to Mus- lims' sense of humiliation achieves just the opposite of its intent. The profuse apolo- gies for every offense real or imagined against Islam . and its founder--apologies that would not be tendered to adherents of any other religion--and the constant pressure on Israel for con- cessions, will not salve Arab shame or make them more conciliatory. All that such efforts do is convince Mus- lims of the weakness of their adversaries and whet their appetite for more aggression. The refusal of American and Western policymakers to understand the Arab/Islamic world in its own cultural terms has fueled decades of futile peacemaking. But that is far-from the most costly outgrowth of the un- willingness to take culture seriously. The whole project to build a stable democracy in Iraq was predicated on a materialist assumption that all human beings desire per- sonal freedom as their high- est priority, and that given the proper constitution and government structure they can all realize their desire to live in a stable representative democracy. But all people are not the same, and all cultures do not place the same value on individual freedom. As David Goldman argues in How Civi- lizations Die (And Why Islam is Dying Too), representative democracy depends on very high levels of trust between citizens. They must believe that the members of rival political factions or parties share a commitment to a set of procedures and structures embodied in the constitution that guarantee each sidethat if their views do not prevail today they may yet do so tomorrow. But members in tribe and clan based societies trust no one outside their own clan or tribe Trust in abstract constitutional principles that all sectors of society agree to uphold is not something that is within their frame of reference. And as a consequence, the blood and treasure expended by America to create a stable democracy in Iraq was spent in vain. But the most costly out- growth of the refusal to take culture and religion seri- ously may be yet to come in the form of a nuclear Iran. The West would prefer to ignore the jihadi impulse, as well as the jihadi's willing- ness to sacrifice his life to preserve the tribe to which he belongs. The most sacred act of pagan society is war through which the individual conse- crates himself to the future of the tribe or clan by risk- ing his life in aggressive warfare against enemies. He risks nothing, according to the German Jewish thinker Franz Rosenzweig, by sac- rificing himself for his tribe since he has no existence except through his tribe. Rosenzweig viewed tribal Muslim society as essentially pagan in nature, and Allah ruling as an arbitrary orien- tal potentate, according to his wholly arbitrary will, as the entire pantheon of pagan gods rolled into one. Indeed never has suicide, in the form of Muslim suicide bombers, played such a large role in military conflict as it does today. The danger that should keep us all awake at night is that a nuclear Iran would become the first sui- cide bomber nation. Jonathan Rosenblum is a columnist for the Jerusalem Post and Israeli director of Am Echad. From page 5A Progress on developingvac- cines has been made, though it bears noting that there is, by definition, no cure for vi- ral diseases, not even for the common cold. But one can treat symptoms and boost the immune system. If, that is, one catches the sufferers, and here is where the world is maling every mis- take in the book, says Lobel. Jf governments are seri- ous about halting the spread of Ebola, airports will have to install infra-red scanners and screen everyone--every passenger from every desti- nation--lo0king for people running a fever, says Lobel. "That's a no-brainer." What worries him is that after this Ebola frenzy, the world will recede into apathy. But Ebola, which terrifies people perhaps less for its death rate and more for its symptoms, should be an awakening. Ebola will pass, but it or some other outbreak will come along that could be even worse--humankind has known plenty of viral hor- rors, including influenza, which has killed countless mill-ions. The world needs to be ready to cope. What there's absolutely no point in doing, is handing out questionnaires. "People lie," Lobel observes. The Excalibur precedent In any case, hysteria can lead to even more mistakes. Take the death of Excalibur, dog of Teresa Romero. Upon Romero's diagnosis, despite a vast social-media campaign driven by Teresa's husband Javier himself to save the animal, the city of Madrid obtained a court order to put Excalibur down, lest it prove to carry or have Ebola. Could it? Probably not. "I think it was a little drastic. The dog should have been monitored. If it had been a human being they wouldn't have killed him," says Lobel. That's what they do in cases of suspected rabies, which has a t00 percent mortality rate, not a 50 percent one, he points out. 8 6 5 4 1 7 3 9 2 Panel 7 9 2 3 5 6 8 1 4 From page7A izes in the interpretation of 3 4 1 8 2 9 7 56 cultural landscapesandsites of memory, associated with African American, Southern, 2 8 4 7 6 1 9 3 5 and AtlanticWorldhistory. 5 3 9 2 6 4 7 at UCF. From 199-7-2006, French served as assistant/ associate/interim director of 6 7 9 5 3 4 2 8 the UniversityofVirginia's Carter G. Woodson Institute 9 1 6 2 7 5 4 8 3 for African-AmericanandAf- rican Studies. More recently, from 2006-2010, he directed 4 2 8 6 9 3 5 7 1 theVirginiaCenterforDigital History at the University of 5 3 7 1 4 8 2 6 9 Virginia. He is the author Of "The Rebellious Slave: Nat In further fairness to the Madrid local govero- ment, ft may not have had facilities appropriate to quarantine the unfortu- nate Excalibur properly, Lobel concedes. But there was clearly an element of hysteria in- volved. Dogs are not Ebola carriers. Horses, which are used to prepare serum for Eboia, don't get the disease. In fact, nobody even knows what the natural reservoir of Ebola is. Reports that the disease originated in fruit bats has not, repeat not, been substantiated, though bats can get infected. "We know fruit bats can harbor Marburg but they do not harbor Ebola. People keep saying that but it isn't true. We do not know what the reservoir is in nature," Lobel spells out. Previous breaks were con- tained rather rapidly. Why is this one so bad? "First of all any outbreak of Ebola is bad," Lobel corrects the question. "Secondly, this was the perfect storm of viral disease." Not only is it one of the more lethal viruses known to man: it has erupted in countries with the most meager medical care in the world, that have the least control over their populations. And the worst thing is that people don't get it yet. Governments do, says Lobel, but that isn't a "govern- ment" asking questions at the airport or screening passengers, or taking an Ebola patient's tempera- ture. Those are people and until they get it, they will continue to don protective gear and then unthinkingly touch their faces, unwit- tingly rub an itching eye or secretly, pick their nose. "This is the problem be- cause in the eyes of the virus we're all the same--black, white, Jew or Muslim. I'm an earthling," says Lobel. "We're all the same. If people realized we're on the same boat, they'd realize we need to reach a balance with na- ture, If this ravagesAfrica, it will come back at us in a huge way." Turner in American Memo- ry" (Houghton Mifflin, 2004) and co-author, with Craig Bar- ton and Peter Flora, of "Booker T. Washington Elementary School and Segregated Edu- cation in Virginia"(National Park Service, 2007). His film, "That World is Gone: Race and Displacement in a Southern Town," won Audience Favor- ite, Best Short Documentary, at the 2010 Virginia Film Festival. Rabbi Steven Engel cur- rently serves as rabbi of Congregation of Reform Judaism (CRJ), a Reform synagogue affiliated with the Union for Reform'Juda- ism (URJ) After ordination he served as Associate Rabbi in Columbus Ohio. He then became the spiritual leader of Mississippi's largest congre- gation where he was actively involved in local and state civic and political affairs and was often called upon to rep- resent the Jewish community of Mississippi. While there he successfully challenged the Governor on issues related to religious diversity and hate crimes. He received Mississippi's most prestigious leadership award from the Mississippi Religious Leader- ship Conference. His rabbinic thesis was ntitled "A Critical Psychobiography of Kivie Kaplan. Against the Backdrop of Black-Jewish Relations in the 20th Century." Rabbi Engel has also been actively involved in Social Concerns twice serving as president of Stewpot Community Ser- vices, Jackson MS's largest social service agency, and was co-founder of "The Feed The Homeless Breakfast" program in downtown Cin- cinnati, Ohio. This panel discussion will take place .on Sunday, Nov. 2nd., at 1 p.m. at the JCC in Maitland. RSVP at www. jfgo.org or call 407-645-5933 ext. 236 for more information.