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A key ingredient in aspirin blocks brain cell death from Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

Stashed in: Brain, Awesome, Medicine, Alzheimer's

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The researchers discovered that when neurons in the brain experience oxidative stress - when the balance between the production of reactive oxygen species (free radicals) and antioxidant defences is thrown out of whack - GAPDH moves into the nucleus to increase protein turnover, and this then leads to cell death.

But when they tested the effects of salicylic acid on GAPDH, they watched as the two became bound together. This meant GAPDH could no longer pass into the nucleus of brain's neurons.

"The enzyme GAPDH, long thought to function solely in glucose metabolism, is now known to participate in intracellular signalling," said one of the team, Solomon Snyder from Johns Hopkins University. "The new study establishes that GAPDH is a target for salicylate drugs related to aspirin, and hence may be relevant to the therapeutic actions of such drugs."

The team is now continuing their investigation into the potential of salicylic acid as a wide-ranging treatment option. They say a derivative of salicylic acid that can be extracted from a variety of Chinese liquorice plant and a synthetic version both appear to bind more tightly to GAPDH than the pure version, so that's where they’re going to be focussing their future research efforts.

The results have been published in PLOS ONE.

Do you think it could be employed in advance to prevent Alzheimer's?

In which case, yet another reason to consume aspirin!

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