Leading providers of elder care in New Hampshire understand firsthand how neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are devastating to seniors and families. These chronic, progressive illnesses slowly rob those affected of their cognitive function and currently have no cure. And as our lifespan increases, more and more people are affected by Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. But researchers from University of Leicester may have found a way to reverse the symptoms of these conditions as well as other neurodegenerative disorders.
The study, published in April 2016 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, used fruit flies to examine specific metabolites in the brain that cause the loss of nerve cells. The scientists found that blocking these metabolites in the test subjects increased levels of an enzyme called kynurenic acid that protects the nerve cells from damage.
Over the five year research period, fruit flies with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s outlived the truncated lifespan usually caused by these diseases, exhibited fewer problems with motor skills, and showed a reduced loss of neurons. While more research is needed, this study lays the groundwork for the development of drugs that can inhibit the toxic metabolites, potentially decreasing symptoms of a range of neurodegenerative diseases.
According to Dr. Flaviano Giorgini, whose team conducted the study, there is a fine balance between “good” and “bad” metabolites in the pathway of the brain where neurodegenerative diseases originate. By exploring methods to tip the balance back to “good” in patients affected with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, new treatment modalities for these conditions may be developed. Treatment options for people with neurodegeneration are currently limited and often have severe side effects.
The next step is to test methods for reducing the levels of toxic metabolites in mammalian subjects, which can potentially tell the scientists more about how these methods can be used in humans. The team’s research is supported by CHDI Foundation, NIH, and Parkinson’s UK.
If your aging loved one is facing a challenging diagnosis, know that your family doesn’t have to go through the next phase of life alone. At Home Care Assistance, our friendly and expertly trained New Hampshire caregivers can provide support and assistance through every stage of a tough disease like AD or PD. Find out more about how we can help by calling (603) 471-3004 and scheduling a free in-home consultation.