We all have known older friends and relatives who may have lost a step or two in the cognition department. The general consensus that is widely accepted is that it’s a facet of getting older. You may forget a couple of things here and there or even forget why you’ve walked into a room. When these issues get worse, they may be the precursor to neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Multiple Sclerosis. The heartbreak to see a loved one go through this slow mental decline is immeasurable. But, what if there was a treatment that could stave off this decline and possibly reverse these symptoms?
Klotho was originally discovered by Dr. Makoto Kuro-o in Japan in 1991 while researching high blood pressure. During his experiments with mice, Dr. Kuro-o inadvertently aged a group of mice rapidly. This rapid aging took place due to the removal of Klotho from the mice due to gene alteration in the experiment process. It took Dr. Kuro-o and his researchers some time to pinpoint the actual hormone that caused the rapid change. Once the hormone was isolated, Dr. Kuro-o named it Klotho after one of the Greek Mythological fates who spun threads to symbolize a person’s life.
Recent Klotho Discoveries
20 years after the initial discovery by Dr. Kuro-o, Dr. Dena Dubal at UCSF (University of California – San Francisco) was conducting experiments on neurological disorders with mice. Dr. Dubal’s findings concluded that increased levels of Klotho within mice not only helped mice with symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, but also enhanced cognitive skills for healthy mice. These findings were significant within neurological circles as they provided a ray of hope in future treatments of diseases and prevention. The next step in the research process is to figure out why Klotho levels impact the brain so much. Once this step is completed satisfactorily, then human trials of Klotho treatment could possibly begin.
There are ethical issues that are raised with such a treatment for humans as gene editing methods such as Crispr have opened up a Pandora’s box of possible outcomes. For Klotho, which is a hormone produced by the body, the possibility exists of being able to alter the levels of Klotho within the body. Whether this treatment is done orally or by injection is still up for conjecture as human trials won’t be approved for quite a while. Would enhancing your cognitive abilities via a shot of Klotho be considered unethical and tinkering with natural design? Or would the ability to possibly eradicate age-related neurological disorders be worth the toeing of the ethical line? These are the questions that researchers debate within themselves and each other. There are a growing number of medical experts who are in favor of pursuing Klotho as a viable option for neurological maladies. Dr. Dubal was quoted on this issue, “We’re going to have 115 million people with Alzheimer’s disease by 2050, if we can make this an effective treatment, then it is unethical not to do so”.
Klotho remains a question mark for use in neurological disorders in humans, but that question mark may be removed in the coming years as more research is conducted on the efficacy of Klotho in laboratory animals. Klotho provides a possible eradication of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other neurological issues, only time will tell.