Israeli Researchers Find Gene Mutation inNorth African, Iraqi Jews

Dan Even
Dan Even
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Dan Even
Dan Even

Israeli researchers have identified the genetic mutation that increases the risk of having a child with a rare degenerative disease that affects cerebral function and is found among Jews from the Middle East or North Africa.

The findings, which will be published this week in the American Journal of Human Genetics, will make it possible for Israeli couples of Middle Eastern or North African descent to undergo genetic testing to screen for autosomal-recessive progressive cerebellocerebral atrophy, or PCCA.

"In cases where both members of a couple are known to carry the mutation, it will be possible to advise the couple about pregnancy... to see whether the fetus suffers from the defect, and terminate the pregnancy, if needed," said lead researcher Ohad Birk, who heads the Genetics Institute at Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva.

"Quite possibly, understanding the disease mechanism will enable new, innovative care techniques to be developed, and bring an end to the advance of the degenerative disease."

If both members of a couple carry the mutation, they have a 25 percent chance of passing on the disease.

The researchers made the discovery after studying families of Iraqi or North African descent from central and southern Israel.

It is estimated that one of every 40 Israelis of Iraqi or North African descent carries the mutation, and about 100 Israelis suffer from PCAA.

The disease is diagnosed by MRI exams conducted on babies at least six months old.


Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN


Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

The projected rise in sea level on a beach in Haifa over the next 30 years.

Facing Rapid Rise in Sea Levels, Israel Could Lose Large Parts of Its Coastline by 2050

Tal Dilian.

As Israel Reins in Its Cyberarms Industry, an Ex-intel Officer Is Building a New Empire

Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III and a British synagogue.

How the Queen’s Death Changes British Jewry’s Most Distinctive Prayer

Newly appointed Israeli ambassador to Chile, Gil Artzyeli, poses for a group picture alongside Rabbi Yonatan Szewkis, Chilean deputy Helia Molina and Gerardo Gorodischer, during a religious ceremony in a synagogue in Vina del Mar, Chile last week.

Chile Community Leaders 'Horrified' by Treatment of Israeli Envoy

Queen Elizabeth attends a ceremony at Windsor Castle, in June 2021.

Over 120 Countries, but Never Israel: Queen Elizabeth II's Unofficial Boycott