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DNA and Dementia

Jay H. Robbins Defects in the body's DNA repair system long have been linked to skin cancer, but evidence is now emerging that similar problems play a role in Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. New findings by senior investigator and medical officer Jay H. Robbins and colleagues in the dermatology branch at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) go far toward validating a hypothesis broached by Robbins a quarter-century ago. That's how long his team has been following cli

Steve Bunk


Jay H. Robbins
Defects in the body's DNA repair system long have been linked to skin cancer, but evidence is now emerging that similar problems play a role in Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. New findings by senior investigator and medical officer Jay H. Robbins and colleagues in the dermatology branch at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) go far toward validating a hypothesis broached by Robbins a quarter-century ago.

That's how long his team has been following clinical cases of xeroderma pigmentosum (XP), a rare, autosomal recessive disorder that causes at least 1,000 times the normal risk of skin cancer1 and also sometimes involves premature neuronal death. Certain DNA lesions found in Alzheimer's exist in some XP patients. In both diseases, free radicals that arise as by-products of oxygen metabolism in the brain appear to cause these lesions. Mutations in nucleotide excision repair (NER), one of several endogenous...

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