Mannitol, an artificial sweetener widely used in gum and candy, may offer health benefits to patients with Parkinson's disease and other neurodegenerative disorders, new research suggests.
Scientists at Tel Aviv University note the sugar alcohol is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use as a diuretic to flush out excess fluids and during surgery to open the blood/brain barrier to ease the passage of other drugs.
But the new research, by Ehud Gazit and Daniel Segal of Tel Aviv University's Department of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology and the Sagol School of Neuroscience, found that mannitol also prevents clumps of the proteins from forming in the brain — a process that is characteristic of Parkinson's disease.
The findings, based on laboratory studies of fruit flies and published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, suggest the sweetener could one day be used in the treatment of Parkinson's and other neurodegenerative diseases.
The research was funded, in part, by a grant from the Parkinson's Disease Foundation.
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