Kavindra Sahabir ‘21
An estimated 24 million people worldwide are suffering from neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. A major causative factor in the onset and progression of these diseases is the formation of misformed alpha-synuclein proteins, which aggregate and cause major problems in the nervous system. Thus, in developing strategies to combat these diseases, researchers must look for ways to block the aggregation of these proteins. Shoukoh Honarmand and other researchers are using small molecules called flavonoids, which are found in various herbal extracts, to achieve this goal. They tested different herbal extracts to determine which one has the greatest inhibiting effects on alpha-synuclein aggregation.
In this study, the researchers extracted the essence of four plants: Berberis, Quercus robur, Stigma maydis and Salix aegyptica. Each essence was mixed into laboratory-harvested samples of alpha-synuclein using a method called surface plasmon resonance. In addition, spectroscopy was used to detect and analyze the presence of alpha-synuclein in the sample. To measure the effectiveness of each extract, the percent of alpha-synuclein aggregation inhibited was calculated using the percent of alpha-synuclein in the sample divided by the percent of alpha-synuclein in the sample after the extract was introduced.
The results of this study showed that flavonoids may have the potential to block and inhibit alpha-synuclein aggregation. Salix aegyptica had a 95% inhibition percentage confirming it to be the most effective extract. It was also seen that Salix aegyptica had a higher affinity, or rate of interaction, with alpha-synuclein, which led researchers to believe that there may be a correlation between inhibition effectiveness and molecule affinity. The results of this study can potentially help to develop a drug that could lead to the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases with further investigation done to determine the extract with the highest levels of inhibition and affinity.
- S. Honarmand, et al., The interaction of several herbal extracts with α-synuclein: Fibril formation and surface plasmon resonance analysis. Public Library of Science, (2019). doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0217801
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