African plant extract offers new hope for Alzheimer's

June 20, 2017, University of Nottingham
Diagram of the brain of a person with Alzheimer's Disease. Credit: Wikipedia/public domain.

A plant extract used for centuries in traditional medicine in Nigeria could form the basis of a new drug to treat Alzheimer's disease, researchers at The University of Nottingham have found.

Their study, published in the journal Pharmaceutical Biology, has shown that the extract taken from the leaves, stem and roots of Carpolobia lutea, could help to protect in the brain which play a vital role in functions including memory and learning.

The tree extract could pave the way for to tackle patient symptoms but without the unwanted side-effects associated with some current treatments.

The study was led by Dr Wayne Carter in the University's Division of Medical Sciences and Graduate Entry Medicine, based at Royal Derby Hospital. He said: "As a population we are living longer, and the number of people with dementia is growing at an alarming rate. Our findings suggest that traditional medicines will provide new chemicals able to temper Alzheimer's progression."

Neurodegenerative diseases represent a huge health burden globally, placing pressure on health services and having a negative impact on the lives of patients and their families.

Researchers and companies are racing to discover new treatments for these disorders and have begun looking to plant extracts as a potential source of .

In patients with Alzheimer's disease and other diseases such as Parkinson's disease and myasthenia gravis, the activity of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, is reduced, leading to problems with memory and attention.

Current drugs - called acetylcholinesterase inhibitors - reduce the normal breakdown of acetylcholine. Extensive research is underway to find new versions of these drugs but with additional beneficial properties.

Carpolobia lutea, known more commonly as cattle stick, is a small shrub or tree found native to Central and West Africa. Herbalists in Nigerian tribes use the essence of the root as an aphrodisiac and the treatment of genitourinary infections, gingivitis, and waist pains.

It has also been reported to possess other anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic, antimicrobial, antimalarial, and analgesic properties. This could be particularly important in Alzheimer's disease as there is more evidence emerging that Alzheimer's patients have inflammation in the brain.

The Nottingham study found that the plant was highly effective in preventing the breakdown of acetylcholine but had other beneficial antioxidant properties in fighting free radicals - unstable atoms that can cause damage to cells and contribute to ageing and disease - damage that may be exacerbated in Alzheimer's disease.

Explore further: Plant reveals anti-Alzheimer's compounds

More information: Lucky Legbosi Nwidu et al, Anti-acetylcholinesterase activity and antioxidant properties of extracts and fractions of, Pharmaceutical Biology (2017). DOI: 10.1080/13880209.2017.1339283

Related Stories

Plant reveals anti-Alzheimer's compounds

June 20, 2017
Japanese scientists have developed a method to isolate and identify active compounds in plant medicines, which accurately accounts for drug behavior in the body. Using the technique, they have identified several active compounds ...

Potential Alzheimer's medication shows promise in mouse model of neurodegenerative disease

December 19, 2016
Memory loss and other cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer's disease are attributed, in part, to the degeneration of acetylcholine-producing neurons. Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors are a common treatment for patients with Alzheimer's; ...

How drugs can help your brain encode memories

January 14, 2016
Medical researchers at the University of Bristol have uncovered a fundamental mechanism that explains the interaction between brain state and the neural triggers responsible for learning. The discoveries, made by researchers ...

New drug SAK3 may offer hope to Alzheimer's disease patients

January 26, 2017
Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter in the brain that plays an important role in controlling attention and cognition. Acetylcholine system dysfunction is believed to be one of the causes of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and vascular ...

Boosting a cell-protecting protein may help slow Alzheimer's disease progression

March 2, 2017
A new study of Alzheimer's disease by Fiona Kerr and Linda Partridge at University College London, uses mouse and fruit fly models to show that Keap1, which inhibits the protective protein Nrf2, is a promising target for ...

Can traditional chinese medicine offer treatments for dementia and Alzheimer's disease?

September 20, 2016
A new study of classical Chinese medical texts identifies references to age-related memory impairment similar to modern-day Alzheimer's disease, and to several plant-based ingredients used centuries ago—and still in use ...

Recommended for you

Meditation and music may alter blood markers of cellular aging and Alzheimer's disease

November 13, 2018
A research team led by Dr. Kim Innes, a professor in the West Virginia University School of Public Health, has found that a simple meditation or music listening program may alter certain biomarkers of cellular aging and Alzheimer's ...

Alzheimer's and cardiovascular disease share common genetics in some patients

November 9, 2018
Genetics may predispose some people to both Alzheimer's disease and high levels of blood lipids such as cholesterol, a common feature of cardiovascular disease, according to a new study by an international team of researchers ...

Artificial intelligence predicts Alzheimer's years before diagnosis

November 6, 2018
Artificial intelligence (AI) technology improves the ability of brain imaging to predict Alzheimer's disease, according to a study published in the journal Radiology.

Diabetes medications may reduce Alzheimer's disease severity

November 1, 2018
People with Alzheimer's disease who were treated with diabetes drugs showed considerably fewer markers of the disease—including abnormal microvasculature and disregulated gene expressions—in their brains compared to Alzheimer's ...

Massive study confirms that loneliness increases risk of dementia

October 29, 2018
A new Florida State University College of Medicine study involving data from 12,000 participants collected over 10 years confirms the heavy toll that loneliness can take on your health: It increases your risk of dementia ...

Bioactive compound from the Rhodiola plant improves memory

October 25, 2018
In an ageing society, more people are suffering from memory disorders. The progressive loss of memory severely impairs the quality of life of those affected. So far, no drugs are known to prevent age-related cognitive decline.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.