Researchers from the Boyce Thompson Institute and John Hopkins University found that aspirin component, salicylic acid, may help enhance treatments for neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's disease.

In ancient times, humans used plants remedies to cure ailments. Up until this day, most medicines are still derived from plant origins. Salicylic acid (SA) is a common example of a widely-used plant-based medicine. In fact, acetyl SA or aspirin has a consumption rate of approximately 80 million tablets per day.

Aspirin is prescribed to alleviate fever, pain and inflammation. The drug is also consumed to drop the risks of stroke, heart attacks and cancers.

Aside from these common uses of aspirin, the researchers of the new study wanted to find out if the drug has other targets in human health. They performed similar testing of cultured human cells and determined numerous new possible targets of SA. One of the protein targets of SA is Glyceraldehyde 3-Phosphate Dehydrogenase (GAPDH).

GAPDH is recognized to initiate cell death in both neuronal and non-neuronal cells. With this, the protein coding gene is being associated with neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and Huntington's disease.

During oxidative stress, GAPDH is altered and enters the nucleus of brain cells, facilitate protein turnover and eventually promote cell death.

Deprenyl, which is a medicine used to manage Parkinson's disease, hinders the permeation of GAPDH into the nucleus of the cells, preventing cell death.

"The enzyme GAPDH, long thought to function solely in glucose metabolism, is now known to participate in intracellular signaling," said Solomon Snyder, co-author of the study and a professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University.

The research confirms that GAPDH is one of the targets of salicylates related to aspirin thus, may be significant in the therapeutic mechanisms of drugs for neurological diseases.

The study was published in the journal PLOS One on Nov. 25, 2015.

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