Alzheimer’s, along with other forms of dementia, is one of the most costly – both emotionally and financially – disease of the modern world. As you can mostly likely imagine, it’s horrible to suffer from any of the associated diseases, as you slowly waste away until you remain a shell of who you once were, and then you die. In their fight against the disease, a team of researchers discovered that algae blooms generate Alzheimer’s-like symptoms.
- The research was a collaboration between the University of Miami Brain Endowment Bank and the Institute for EthnoMedicine
- Causes of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s remain mostly unknown
- BMAA is a toxin released by some fresh water algae as they’re blooming
- The team performed their research on groups of vervet monkeys
- An amino acid called L-serine is being investigated as a possible cure for these neurodegenerative diseases
We have known for a while that some people on certain Pacific Islands were suffering from symptoms similar to those of Alzheimer’s, ALS, and Parkinson’s.
As they figured out that a village on the Pacific island of Guam was suffering from more symptoms similar to the disease, as well as from brain tangles and amyloid deposits associated with it, a team of researchers decided to see if it had anything to do with the large concentration of BMAA toxin released by some algae present in abundance in their fresh water supplies.
After testing the hypothesis on multiple groups of vervet monkeys, the team concluded beyond a shadow of doubt that the neurotoxin found in the algae is responsible for generating symptoms similar to those of Alzheimer’s, ALS, and Parkinson’s
But what’s even better is that the team might have found a substance – the L-serine amino acid, which might actually prove helpful in the fight against neurodegenerative diseases.
In their two 140 days experiments, the team of researchers fed fruit laced with the BMAA neurotoxin to a bunch of groups of vervets, while some of the groups also received fruit laced with L-serine.
Despite all the monkeys showing signs of brain tangles and amyloid deposits associated with neurodegenerative diseases, the monkeys also fed L-serine showed far fewer.
By determining that the brain tangles and amyloid deposits in the brains of the monkeys were nearly identical to those in the brains of the Chamorro villagers on the Guam Island suffering from the horrifying brain diseases, the team determined that L-serine might be of use in fighting them.
However, the treatment is still waiting to begin FDA approved human trials, so it might be a while until any functional cures for the diseases will hit the market.
Image source: Pixabay