by Dr. Nithin Jayan on  June 26, 2013 at 11:29 AM Health In Focus
Artificial Sweetener, Mannitol, Has Potential for Treating Parkinsonís
Mannitol, a common component of sugar-free gum and candy, may cure Parkinsonism, suggests new study.

Parkinson's disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. Statistics reveal that nearly seven to 10 million people worldwide are living with†the disease. Parkinson's disease leads to the gradual degeneration of nerve cells in parts of the brain concerned with the control of body movements. The clumping of a protein alpha-synuclein in the brain, characteristic of Parkinson's disease, is thought to be the prime cause for the devastation. Years of research for a drug that can prevent this clumping appear to have fruited finally; mannitol appears to prevent the aggregation of alpha-synuclein.

Mannitol is a sugar alcohol produced by fungi, bacteria, and algae. It is an FDA approved drug that is used as a diuretic to flush out excess fluids; it is also used during surgery as a substance that opens the blood/ brain barrier to ease the passage of other drugs.

Transgenic fruit flies (Drosophila)†were employed to test the relevant effect of mannitol. A 70 percent reduction in aggregates of alpha-synuclein was found in genetically-altered flies that had been fed mannitol. The ability of flies to climb the walls of a test tube was taken as an indicator of their locomotive capability in the test called the "climbing assay."†

Only 38 percent of the genetically-altered flies climbed up during the initial experimental period. These flies were then fed mannitol for a period of 27 days and the experiment was repeated. It was then found that 70 percent of the mutated flies could climb up the test tube. The results were published in the†Journal of Biological Chemistry and presented at the Drosophila Conference in Washington, DC in April.

The idea that this artificial sweetener could be a novel therapy for the treatment of Parkinson's is promising, however, the time is yet to be ripe to declare its efficacy for human use. It is not advisable for Parkinson's patients to begin ingesting mannitol in large quantities at this point of time, warn the researchers.

Reference : R. Shaltiel-Karyo, M. Frenkel-Pinter, E. Rockenstein, C. Patrick, M. Levy-Sakin, A. Schiller, N. Egoz-Matia, E. Masliah, D. Segal, E. Gazit.†A Blood-Brain Barrier (BBB) Disrupter Is Also a Potent -Synuclein (†-syn) Aggregation Inhibitor: A Novel Dual Mechanism of Mannitol for The Treatment of Parkinson Disease (PD).†Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2013; 288 (24): 17579.

Source: Medindia

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