It's almost 200 years since Parkinson's disease was discovered, and yet there is no cure for this debilitating disease although some medications are capable of easing the symptoms. One of the hallmarks of this disease is the accumulation of a protein called "alpha-synuclein" within brain neurons.
Here's some sweet news.
Researchers at Tel Aviv University have found that an artificial sweetener Mannitol could be a potential treatment for Parkinson's disease as it has been found to prevent aggregation of alpha-synuclein protein in brain in lab studies.
As part of the study, the locomotive capability of transgenic fruit flies engineered to carry the human gene for alpha-synuclein was assessed by comparing the ability of normal flies and mutated flies to climb the walls of a test tube.
Initially, 72 percent of normal flies were able to climb up the test tube, compared to only 38 percent of the genetically-altered flies. The locomotive capability was again tested after feeding the genetically-altered flies with food enriched with Mannitol for a period of 27 days.
The second time was surprisingly different - with 70 percent of the mutated flies able to climb up the test tube. In addition, there was a 70 percent reduction in aggregates of alpha-synuclein in mutated flies that had been fed Mannitol, compared to those that had not, according to the researchers.
Commonly used as a sugar-free sweetener for people with diabetes, Mannitol is also used as a diuretic to flush out excess fluids and as a substance that opens the blood/brain barrier to ease the passage of other drugs during surgery.
"Although the results look promising, it is still not advisable for Parkinson's patients to begin ingesting mannitol in large quantities", says Daniel Segal, involved in the study.
The research findings were presented at the Drosophila Conference in Washington, DC in April of this year.
by RTT Staff Writer
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