Hermona Soreq. Stress: a cause or effect of diseases?
On August 20, the Digital October center, as part of the Knowledge Stream project, presented a lecture by the Israeli molecular biologist Hermona Soreq. Several years ago, her laboratory uncovered the mechanism by which stress affects the nervous system and the condition of an organism’s cells.
Hermona Soreq is a PhD in biochemistry and professor of molecular biology in Israel’s largest scientific center, the Jewish University in Jerusalem. In 2005–2008, she was the first female dean of the Department of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. She is the author of 260 scientific publications and seven books and the holder of 12 patents.
Dr. Soreq is in agreement with the slogan “a healthy mind in a healthy body”: diseases and a weak immune system interfere with the functioning of the brain, and inflammatory processes are a factor in the appearance of stress. The opposite is also true: mental equilibrium protects the organism from serious illnesses. In the course of 20 years of research, Hermona Soreq has been able to figure out that, under the effect of stress, the process of RNA synthesis is disrupted, which gradually produces genetic changes that lead to a lowering of the amount of acetylcholine — a chemical compound responsible for neuro-muscular transmission — in the organism.
These stress-produced defects are the cause of a range of problems: fatigue, disruption of the organism’s circadian rhythms, worsening of memory, and male sterility. In the end, stress can lead to such “ills of the era” as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. People in ancient times did not know about these diseases, as they did not live that long. The destruction of the nervous system under the effect of anxiety or fear takes place slowly, but now that the time that a human being can expect to live has increased, one of these diseases may await him.
Creating new medicines that will help humanity to deal with the diseases caused by stress is the basis of Hermona Soreq’s work. Her laboratory has already developed a synthetic drug based on DNA for those suffering from myasthenia. In her lecture, Hermona Soreq spoke in detail about the organism’s biochemical reaction to stress, about the link between anxiety and inflammatory processes, and how molecular biology benefits medicine.
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