Monday, January 9, 2012

Antioxidant found potentially valuable to fight Alzheimer's disease

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Harold Mandel

Alzheimer's disease is a greatly feared disease. The U.S. National Library of Medicine defines dementia as a loss of brain function which occurs with certain diseases, with Alzheimer's disease (AD), being one form of dementia that gradually gets worse over time. Alzheimer's disease affects memory, thinking, and behavior. Elderly people in Syracuse and their families should be pleased to learn that an antioxidant compound called MitoQ may have the potential to effectively fight Alzheimer's.

The University of Georgia (UGA) News Service has reported "Antioxidant has potential in the Alzheimer’s fight, UGA researchers find." When too much oxidative stress occurs in the brain Alzheimer’s sets in. This is believed to be due to the improper processing of a protein which is associated with the creation of free radicals that cause oxidative stress. A study by researchers in the University of Georgia College of Pharmacy has shown that an antioxidant can delay the onset of all the indicators of Alzheimer’s, including cognitive decline.

An antioxidant compound called MitoQ was administered to mice which were genetically engineered to develop Alzheimer’s. The results of this study have been published in the Journal of Neuroscience. The Alzheimer’s Society says more than 5 million Americans currently suffer from this neurodegenerative disease. It is projected that without successful prevention, almost 14 million Americans will have Alzheimer’s by 2050. This would account for healthcare costs of more than $1 trillion a year.

It is believed that oxidative stress causes neurons in the brain to die which results in Alzheimer’s. Study author James Franklin, an associate professor of pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences, along with Meagan McManus, who received her Ph.D. in neuroscience from UGA, have said “The brain consumes 20 percent of the oxygen in the body even though it only makes up 5 percent of the volume, so it’s particularly susceptible to oxidative stress.”

It was hypothesized by these researchers that antioxidants administered unsuccessfully by other researchers to treat Alzheimer’s were not being concentrated enough in the mitochondria of cells. Mitochondria are structures within cells which have many functions which includes producing oxidative molecules that damage the brain and cause cell death. McManus has said “MitoQ selectively accumulates in the mitochondria. It is more effective for the treatment to go straight to the mitochondria, rather than being present in the cell in general." This study presents an important consideration of the potential for MitoQ to treat Alzheimer's in people.

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