Tags: Alzheimer's/Dementia | african | plant | alzheimer | treatment

African Plant Offers Alzheimer's Hope

By    |   Monday, 04 August 2014 06:28 PM

An African plant used for centuries by healers in São Tomé e Príncipe — an island off the western coast of Africa — to ease mental health problems and promote overall health has been found to contain a chemical compound that scientists say may offer protection against Alzeimer’s disease and dementia.

Researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have discovered that the compound — derived from the leaves and bark of the Voacanga africana tree — protects cells from altered molecular pathways linked to Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, and the neurodegeneration that often follows a stroke, Medical Xpress reports.
 
"What this provides us with is a source of potential new drug targets," said Pamela Maher, a senior staff scientist in Salk's Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory.
 
The findings, published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, are based on analyses of seven different extracts collected from five species of plants in São Tomé e Príncipe. Three of the five had been reported by local healers to have effects on the nervous system and two were used as controls.
 
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The Salk research team put each sample through different tests — all conducted in living human and mouse cells — designed to test their potential impact against neurodegeneration.
 
One tested the ability of the plant extracts to protect cells against oxidative stress, a byproduct of metabolism that can cause DNA damage and has been linked to age-related neurodegeneration.

Another tested anti-inflammatory properties of the compounds. A third measured whether the samples could block the build-up of beta-amyloid peptides in neurons, which has been linked to Alzheimer's disease.
 
They found that one sample in particular — from Voacanga Africana — performed exceptionally on all tests, even in a diluted form.

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An African plant used for centuries by healers on an island off the western coast of Africa to ease mental health problems has been found to contain a chemical compound that scientists say may offer protection against dementia.
african, plant, alzheimer, treatment
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2014-28-04
Monday, 04 August 2014 06:28 PM
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