August 2, 2012

Alzheimer's: Inflammation, Pine Cones, Popcorn

The march of science to create a treatment for Alzheimer’s continues apace. Two new articles recently caught my eye.

Neuroinflammation as Culprit
As reported in the July 25 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience, a new drug may soon become available that treats a range of conditions – including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, and brain injuries – by reducing inflammation in the brain.

Unlike other recent therapies that target amyloid plaques and tangles – protein accumulations in the brain that typically indicate Alzheimer’s – the new drugs, including MW151 and MW189, are designed to improve neuro-function by reducing inflammation.

D. Martin Watterson, study co-author and molecular pharmacology and biological chemistry professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, reported that his university received patents for this new drug class, and licensed commercial development to a biotech company. Phase one of the clinical trials on humans – screening for safety – was recently completed.

Earlier, using rodent subjects, researchers found that the drugs prevented development of full-blown AD in mice that had been genetically-tweaked to develop the disease.

Additional information about the study can be found on this Northwestern University “NewsCenter” bulletin.

And Now… Pine Cones?

As reported in today’s issue of the UK's "Daily Mail" OnLine, a chemical found in pine cones and grape seeds may prevent the formation of tell-tale amyloid plaques in the brain, thereby preventing the development of Alzheimer’s. The new drug based on that naturally occuring compound is called NIC5-15.

The Humanetics Corporation – in concert with researchers from Mount Sinai School of Medicine – developed the drug, and completed phase one clinical trials on humans to verify its safety. Humanetics President and CEO Ronald Zenk said: “There is an urgent need for safe and effective disease modifying agents to lessen the debilitating symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. We are hopeful that NIC5-15 will satisfy that need.”

The company is now seeking several hundred AD sufferers in New York, to determine dosage levels that yield maximal benefit with minimal side effects.

Hmmm. I eat lots of grapes, but I'm not sure how to consume pine cones.

Postscript: Popcorn Lovers, Beware!
As a sidebar to the Daily Mail article about the new Alzheimer’s drug NIC5-15, there appeared the warning below:
An artificial ingredient that gives popcorn a buttery flavour has been linked to a key Alzheimer’s brain process. 
Researchers from the University of Minnesota tested the effect of the ingredient diacetyl (DA) in a lab at exposure levels common in food factories. 
They found DA increased the level of amyloid clumping - a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease. 
It also easily penetrated the “blood-brain-barrier”, which keeps many harmful substances from entering the brain. 
The team, led by Robert Vince, said considering how exposed industry workers were to DA “this study raises the troubling possibility of long-term neurological toxicity." 
Popcorn? Who knew?


Bev said...

very intriguing article! thanks for sharing and educating the community!

Dot said...

And here I just read somewhere about some disease for which popcorn was good!!  (Or do I already hav AZ, and I misinterpreted the article???)

gleeson1929 said...

LOL. Know that feeling well. -- John