Can green tea prevent Alzheimer’s Disease? The answer may be “yes,” according to new research out of the University of Michigan that found a molecule in green tea blocks the formation of specific proteins in the brain that clump together to cause the cognitive disorder.
The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that EGCG — short for epigallocatechin-3-gallate — in green tea interferes with the characteristic development of amyloid plaque proteins seen in Alzheimer's patients and others with neurodegenerative conditions.
Mi Hee Lim, UM Life Sciences Institute faculty member who led the study, was able to use the green tea extract to control the generation of the plaques in laboratory studies.
"A lot of people are very excited about this molecule," said Lim, noting that the EGCG and other flavonoids in natural products have been shown to be powerful antioxidants. "We used a multidisciplinary approach. This is the first example of structure-centric, multidisciplinary investigations by three principal investigators with three different areas of expertise."
Lim said his research team will now “tweak” the molecule to test its ability to prevent plaque develop in animal studies that could ultimately lead to clinical trials in Alzheimer’s patients to refine the use of EGCG to prevent or treat the condition.
The study was funded, in part, by the National Institutes of Health and Alzheimer's Association.
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