Friday June 21, 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

Virtual Reality Can Identify Early Alzheimer’s More Accurately

The researchers are now working towards developing apps for detecting the disease and monitoring its progression

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

Virtual reality (VR) technology can identify early Alzheimer’s disease more accurately than ‘gold standard’ cognitive tests currently in use, says a study.

The findings, published in the journal Brain, highlight the potential of new technologies to help diagnose and monitor conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.

“These results suggest a VR test of navigation may be better at identifying early Alzheimer’s disease than tests we use at present in clinic and in research studies,” said study lead author Dennis Chan, Professor at the University of Cambridge in Britain.

The researchers developed and trialled a VR navigation test in patients at risk of developing dementia.

For the study, the research team recruited 45 patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Patients with MCI typically exhibit memory impairment.

They took samples of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) to look for biomarkers of underlying Alzheimer’s disease in their MCI patients, with 12 testing positive. The researchers also recruited 41 healthy controls for comparison.

A lady suffering from Alzheimer’s. Flickr

All of the patients with MCI performed worse on the navigation task than the healthy controls. However, the study yielded two crucial additional observations.

First, MCI patients with positive CSF markers — indicating the presence of Alzheimer’s disease, thus placing them at risk of developing dementia — performed worse than those with negative CSF markers at low risk of future dementia.

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Secondly, the VR navigation task was better at differentiating between these low and high risk patients with mild cognitive impairment than a battery of currently-used tests considered to be gold standard for the diagnosis of early Alzheimer’s, the study said.

The researchers are now working towards developing apps for detecting the disease and monitoring its progression.

“We live in a world where mobile devices are almost ubiquitous, and so app-based approaches have the potential to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease at minimal extra cost and at a scale way beyond that of brain scanning and other current diagnostic approaches,” Chan said. (IANS)