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Berberine and Alzheimer’s
What to study?
For Prelims: About the disease, treatments, Berberine and Ber- D.
For Mains: Significance of the discovery.
What is Berberine?
Berberine is a natural and cheap product similar to curcumin, available commercially
It is poorly soluble and toxic to cells.
Why in News?
Scientists from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre For Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) have modified the structure of Berberine into Ber-D to use as a Alzheimer’s inhibitor.
Ber-D is a soluble (aqueous), antioxidant. It is a multifunctional inhibitor of multifaceted amyloid toxicity of Alzheimer’s disease.
The structural attributes of Ber-D are such that they prevent the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and rescue biomacromolecules from oxidative damage.
These attributes make Ber-D a promising candidate for developing effective therapeutics to treat multifaceted toxicity of Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent neurodegenerative disorder and accounts for more than 70% of all dementia. The multifactorial nature of the disease attributed to multifaceted toxicity has made it difficult for researchers to develop effective medication.
Protein aggregation and amyloid toxicity predominantly contribute to multifaceted toxicity observed in neuronal cells, including generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), mitochondrial dysfunction, interfering with synaptic signaling, and activation of premature cell death.
What is Alzheimer’s?
It is a progressive brain disorder that typically affects people older than 65. When it affects younger individuals, it is considered early onset.
The disease destroys brain cells and nerves, and disrupts the message-carrying neurotransmitters.
Eventually, a person with Alzheimer’s loses the ability to perform day-to-day activities.
Symptoms include memory loss, difficulty in completing familiar tasks, confusion with time or place, problems in speaking and writing, decreased or poor judgment, and changes in mood and personality. Alzheimer’s disease is also the most common cause of dementia — which is a syndrome and not a disease in itself, and whose symptoms include loss of memory, thinking skills, problems with language, changes in mood and deterioration in behaviour.
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s, because its exact causes are not known. Most drugs being developed try to slow down or stop the progression of the disease.
There is a degree of consensus in the scientific community that Alzheimer’s involves two proteins, called beta amyloids and tau. When levels of either protein reach abnormal levels in the brain, it leads to the formation of plaque, which gets deposited between neurons, damaging and disrupting nerve cells.
Most existing drugs for Alzheimer’s try to target these proteins to manage some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.