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Published on : Dec 01, 2015

A recent study released last week suggests that components present in everyday aspirin may prove effective in treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and Alzheimer’s disease. 

The study was published in the medical journal PLOS ONE, and it was conducted by researchers hailing from John Hopkins University and Boyce Thompson Institute. The team during the research found that the plant hormone present in aspirin called, salicylic acid, which is also the main component in the drug efficiently binds itself to an enzyme in the body called GAPDH or Glyceraldehyde 3-Phosphate Dehydrogenase. This enzyme can be beneficial to those suffering from the aforementioned neurodegenerative diseases. Also, GAPDH plays a rather significant role in producing energy for the body, however when there is the presence of free radicals in an excessive number, the enzymes are modified and then they penetrate into the cells of the body, thereby enhancing the overall protein turnover that takes place in a cell, causing them to die. Neurodegenerative diseases are contributed by such cell deaths. 

By binding the enzymes and inhibiting it from entering the cells that causes them to die, salicylic acid can prove to be an effective treatment against neurodegenerative diseases. It is important to note here that an existing treatment is already available for Parkinson’s called deprenyl. It also works by blocking GAPDH from entering the cells. 

The team researched further to explore natural derivatives of salicylic acid, which they experimented to extract from the Chinese medical herb called licorice. Furthermore, they also looked for a lab-synthesized derivative and observed that they bind more tightly to GAPDH than salicylic acid. Apart from the result of the study, earlier in 2015 the team also discovered that salicylic acid could also effectively target protein called HMGB1 that causes inflammation associated with diseases such as arthritis, sepsis, lupus, certain cancers, and atherosclerosis.