COFFEE grounds could be used in a new treatment for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, a study shows.
Caffeic-acid based Carbon Quantum Dots — which are made with the waste from a cup of Joe — have shown promise in treating neurodegenerative disorders.
The cheap drugs helped protect against the effects of Parkinson’s in test tube experiments when the disease was caused by a pesticide called paraquat, US researchers found.
They hope the treatment could be used to help people at the early stages of dementia as well to prevent the disease progressing any further.
Lead author Jyotish Kumar, of the University of Texas at El Paso, said: “CACQDs have the potential to be transformative in the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders.
“This is because none of the current treatments resolve the diseases; they only help manage the symptoms.
“Our aim is to find a cure by addressing the atomic and molecular underpinnings that drive these conditions.”
Around 944,000 Brits are currently living with dementia and experts predict the numbers will exceed one million by the end of the decade.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of the condition, and is thought to be caused by build-ups of proteins in the brain, including tau and amyloid.
There is currently no cure for the disease, although three promising drugs to slow down its progress are currently in trials.
Parkinson’s affects around 145,000 Brits and experts predict numbers could increase by nearly a fifth to 172,00 by 2030.
It is a brain disorder that can cause involuntary shaking, slow movement and stiff or inflexible muscles.
There is no cure, but if it is caught early, changes to diet and exercise, physiotherapy, medications and brain surgery in some cases can help slow down its progression.
The new study, published in Environmental Research, looked at CACQDs, which experts hope could form the basis of a cheap treatment for both conditions.
They are derived from caffeic acid — a type of antioxidant found in coffee.
The compound is unique because it is able to get through the blood-brain barrier and influence the organ, according to Professor Mahesh Narayan, of the University of Texas at El Paso.
Our aim is to come up with a solution that can prevent most cases of these conditions at a cost that is manageable for as many patients as possible.
Professor Mahesh Narayan
CACQDs are made by cooking coffee ground samples at 200C for four hours to change the caffeic acid’s carbon structure.
Researchers found the drug candidate helped remove free radicals — molecules in the body that are linked to a range of conditions, including Parkinson’s —- and prevent them causing damage in test tube experiments.
It also prevented the build-up of Alzheimer’s causing amyloid proteins without significant side effects, researchers said.
They hope to test the drugs further to see how effective it is in treating Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, with the long-term aim of producing a pill.
Professor Narayan said: “It is critical to address these disorders before they reach the clinical stage.
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“At that point, it is likely too late. Any current treatments that can address advanced symptoms of neurodegenerative disease are simply beyond the means of most people.
“Our aim is to come up with a solution that can prevent most cases of these conditions at a cost that is manageable for as many patients as possible.”