A natural compound found in red wine called resveratrol has been found to the interrupt a harmful biological process associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
“This is an important step in increasing our understanding of the cause and progression of Alzheimer’s disease,” lead researcher Nigel Hooper said. “It’s a misconception that Alzheimer’s is a natural part of aging; it’s a disease that we believe can ultimately be cured through finding new opportunities for drug targets like this.”
Researchers at University of Leeds found extracts of resveratrol, along with the green tea compound EGCG, prevents harmful clumps of protein from latching onto brain cells. The findings were published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
Amyloid protein clumps together in the brain to form toxic plaques, leading to the death of brain cells and disruption of chemical signaling between neurons. The toxic plaques can result in loss of memory, mood changes, and problems with reasoning.
The researchers discovered that resveratrol and EGCG distorted the shape of amyloid proteins, preventing the plaques from binding to brain cells and disrupting cell function.
“Understanding the causes of Alzheimer’s is vital if we are to find a way of stopping the disease in its tracks,” Simon Ridley of Alzheimer’s Research UK explained.
“While these early-stage results should not be a signal for people to stock up on green tea and red wine, they could provide an important new lead in the search for new and effective treatments,” he added. “With half a million people affected by Alzheimer’s in the UK, we urgently need treatments that can halt the disease – that means it’s crucial to invest in research to take results like these from the lab bench to the clinic.”
Photo credit: National Institute on Aging