Friday March 22, 2019

Now This California Plant May Hold Promise For Treating Alzheimer’s

Next, the team plans to test sterubin in an animal model of Alzheimer's, then determine its drug-like characteristics and toxicity levels in animals and later in humans

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A lady suffering from Alzheimer's. Flickr

A potent neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory chemical in a native California shrub may lead to treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, say researchers.

The plant called Yerba santa, dubbed as “holy herb” in Spanish by native California tribes, has long been used to treat respiratory ailments, fever and headaches as well as for wounds, sore muscles and rheumatism.

A team of scientists from the Salk Institute identified from Yerba santa a molecule called sterubin, with a potent anti-inflammatory impact on brain cells known as microglia.

It was also an effective iron remover — potentially beneficial because iron can contribute to nerve cell damage in ageing and neurodegenerative diseases.

Overall, the compound was effective against multiple inducers of cell death in the nerve cells, said Pamela Maher, a member of Salk’s Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory.

"The question for us now is not how to eliminate cholesterol from the brain, but about how to control cholesterol's role in Alzheimer's disease through the regulation of its interaction with amyloid-beta," Vendruscolo said.
In Alzheimer’s disease, patients start losing memory. Pixabay

“This is a compound that was known but ignored,” said Maher, in the paper appearing in the journal Redox Biology.

“Not only did sterubin turn out to be much more active than the other flavonoids in Yerba santa in our assays, it appears as good as, if not better than, other flavonoids we have studied,” she added.

To identify natural compounds that might reverse neurological disease symptoms, Maher applied a screening technique used in drug discovery to a commercial library of 400 plant extracts with known pharmacological properties.

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Sterubin was found as Yerba santa’s most active component.

Next, the team plans to test sterubin in an animal model of Alzheimer’s, then determine its drug-like characteristics and toxicity levels in animals and later in humans. (IANS)

Next Story

Eye Test May Help in Early Detection of Alzheimer’s Disease

Conversely, in the eyes of 39 people with Alzheimer's disease, that web was less dense and even sparse in places

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In Alzheimer's disease, patients start losing memory. Pixabay

A future non-invasive eye test may allow early detection of Alzheimer’s disease before memory loss kicks in, say a team led by an Indian-origin researcher.

Retina being an extension of the brain, the optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA) will check patients’ vision as well as brain health, said the study published in the journal Ophthalmology Retina.

The researchers said that loss of blood vessels in retina would reflect changes in the brain, be it for both healthy people or Alzheimer’s patients.

“We know that there are changes that occur in the brain in the small blood vessels in people with Alzheimer’s disease, and because the retina is an extension of the brain, we wanted to investigate whether these changes could be detected,” said lead author Dilraj S. Grewal, ophthalmologist at Duke University.

Using the OCTA that uses light waves that reveal blood flow in every layer of the retina, the researches checked more than 200 people.

A lady suffering from Alzheimer’s. Flickr

They found that in people with healthy brains, microscopic blood vessels form a dense web at the back of the eye inside the retina — as was seen in 133 participants in a control group.

Conversely, in the eyes of 39 people with Alzheimer’s disease, that web was less dense and even sparse in places.

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The OCTA machines, relatively a new noninvasive technology, measures blood vessels that cannot be seen during a regular eye examination.

“It’s possible that these changes in blood vessel density in the retina could mirror what’s going on in the tiny blood vessels in the brain, perhaps before we are able to detect any changes in cognition,” added Sharon Fekrat, ophthalmologist at the Duke University in the US. (IANS)