Can Aspirin Help Prevent Alzheimer's?

Image: Can Aspirin Help Prevent Alzheimer's? (Copyright DPC)

By Nick Tate   |   Tuesday, 01 Dec 2015 11:00 AM

A key component of aspirin has been found to block a process in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and other neurodegenerative disorders.

Researchers at the Boyce Thompson Institute and John Hopkins University discovered that salicylic acid, the primary byproduct of aspirin, binds to a cellular enzyme called GAPDH. That stops it from causing cell death – a key mechanism in the development of Alzheimer’s and other brain disorders.

The study, which appears in the Public Library of Science journal PLOS ONE, suggests that derivatives of salicylic acid may hold promise for treating multiple neurodegenerative diseases.

"The enzyme GAPDH, long thought to function solely in glucose metabolism, is now known to participate in intracellular signaling," said researcher Solomon Snyder, professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. "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 anti-Parkinson's drug deprenyl works in a similar way on GAPDH, the researchers noted. They also found that a natural derivative of salicylic acid from the Chinese medical herb licorice and a lab-synthesized derivative bind to GAPDH more tightly than salicylic acid.

The study was funded, in part, by the U.S. National Science Foundation and the U.S. Public Health Service.

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