AsianScientist (Oct. 26, 2012) – Scientists from the National University of Singapore report that a green tea component may protect against the neurodegenerative effects of Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive and degenerative neurological disease characterized by the loss of neurons in the brain. PD tends to develop after age 50 and affects approximately six million people worldwide.
A team of researchers at the National University of Singapore Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, led by Associate Professor Lim Kah Leong, used fruit flies as a model to study Parkinson’s.
By first engineering the flies to develop PD, the scientists then treated the flies with Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), an antioxidant and the most abundant catechin in green tea.
EGCG-treated flies were much better at moving and had better-preserved neurons compared to untreated flies. The scientists found that EGCG activates an enzyme called AMP kinase that regulates energy use in neurons. This effect of EGCG protected the neurons from dying when stressed.
The team is aiming to partner with pharmaceutical companies to design drugs that also activate AMP kinase. Such drugs would be most beneficial for early-stage PD patients to protect their neurons from the ravaging effects of the disease.
“Whilst they can actually improve the symptom, current medication cannot stop, cannot reverse the degeneration process. Hence it’s important to come up with something that can offer real protection to the brain cells from dying. There are benefits of drinking green tea but in this case we have something even more potent than drinking green tea,” said Prof. Lim to Channel News Asia.
In addition to partnering with pharmaceutical companies, the scientists plan to extend their study to mouse models and neuronal cell samples from PD patients.
Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine.
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