It looks like the pomegranate promoters are about to be vindicated. Pomegranate contains punicalagin, which is a polyphenol – a form of chemical compound that can inhibit inflammation in specialized brain cells known as micrologia. This inflammation leads to the destruction of more and more brain cells, making the condition of Alzheimer’s sufferers progressively worse.
Research underway to create pomegranate drug to stem Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
22 August 2014 Huddersfield, The University of
Dr Olumayokun Olajide’s research will look to produce compound derivatives of punicalagin for a drug that would treat neuro-inflammation and slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease
THE onset of Alzheimer’s disease can be slowed and some of its symptoms curbed by a natural compound that is found in pomegranate. Also, the painful inflammation that accompanies illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis and Parkinson’s disease could be reduced, according to the findings of a two-year project headed by University of Huddersfield scientist Dr Olumayokun Olajide, who specialises in the anti-inflammatory properties of natural products.
Now, a new phase of research can explore the development of drugs that will stem the development of dementias such as Alzheimer’s, which affects some 800,000 people in the UK, with 163,000 new cases a year being diagnosed. Globally, there are at least 44.4 million dementia sufferers, with the numbers expected to soar.
The key breakthrough by Dr Olajide and his co-researchers is to demonstrate that punicalagin, which is a polyphenol – a form of chemical compound – found in pomegranate fruit, can inhibit inflammation in specialised brain cells known as micrologia. This inflammation leads to the destruction of more and more brain cells, making the condition of Alzheimer’s sufferers progressively worse.
There is still no cure for the disease, but the punicalagin in pomegranate could prevent it or slow down its development.
Dr Olajide worked with co-researchers – including four PhD students – in the University of Huddersfield’s Department of Pharmacy and with scientists at the University of Freiburg in Germany. The team used brain cells isolated from rats in order to test their findings. Now the research is published in the latest edition of the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research and Dr Olajide will start to disseminate his findings at academic conferences.
He is still working on the amounts of pomegranate that are required, in order to be effective.
“But we do know that regular intake and regular consumption of pomegranate has a lot of health benefits – including prevention of neuro-inflammation related to dementia,” he says, recommending juice products that are 100 per cent pomegranate, meaning that approximately 3.4 per cent will be punicalagin, the compound that slows down the progression of dementia.
Dr Olajide states that most of the anti-oxidant compounds are found in the outer skin of the pomegranate, not in the soft part of the fruit. And he adds that although this has yet to be scientifically evaluated, pomegranate will be useful in any condition for which inflammation – not just neuro-inflammation – is a factor, such as rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson’s and cancer.
The research continues and now Dr Olajide is collaborating with his University of Huddersfield colleague, the organic chemist Dr Karl Hemming. They will attempt to produce compound derivatives of punicalagin that could the basis of new, orally administered drugs that would treat neuro-inflammation.
Dr Olajide has been a Senior Lecturer at the University of Huddersfield for four years. His academic career includes a post as a Humboldt Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for Drug Research at the University of Munich. His PhD was awarded from the University of Ibadan in his native Nigeria, after an investigation of the anti-inflammatory properties of natural products.
He attributes this area of research to his upbringing. “African mothers normally treat sick children with natural substances such as herbs. My mum certainly used a lot of those substances. And then I went on to study pharmacology!”
The article “Punicalagin inhibits neuroinflammation in LPS-activated rat primary microglia”, by A. Olumayokun A. Olajide, Asit Kumar, Ravikanth Velagapudi, Uchechukwu P. Okorji and Bernd L. Fiebich is published by Molecular Nutrition & Food Research.
Journal of Intergenerational Relationships Presents
a New Approach to Cognitive Aging
30 July 2013 Taylor & Francis
Is treating Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and other Aging Associated Cognitive Challenges (AACC) through medical models really the most effective response to diagnoses?
In the article “The Challenges of Cognitive Aging: Integrating Approaches from Neuroscience to Intergenerational Relationships,” published in the Journal of Intergenerational Relationships, author Peter Whitehouse suggests a more socially-based approach to treating Alzheimer’s and other cognitive disorders.
“Our modern world is challenged by aging demographics, global climate change, political unrest, and economic instability,” says Whitehouse. “Intergenerational approaches to learning and health can foster the kind of long-term intergenerative thinking and valuing that is necessary for human flourishing and even survival in these difficult times. The answers to the challenges of chronic diseases like dementia will not be found in reductionist molecular biology and genetics, but in the redesign of our communities to serve elders, children, and the environment more effectively.”
To demonstrate how intergenerational relationships can assist in addressing some of the social issues that accompany AD and ACCC , Dr. Whitehouse first challenges what he calls the “myth of Alzheimer’s,” or how the new diagnostic criteria for AD and related conditions reveal the limits of medicalization.
Then he details the role of, “The Intergenerational School,” a high performing, public charter school in Ohio that provides learning opportunities for 200 elementary school children and hundreds of adults, some of whom have dementia.
“The school is an intergenerative learning organization built around principles of social construction, educational excellence, lifelong experiential and service learning, and participation in social and political life,” says Whitehouse. Its mission is to create a community that guides individuals in learning the skills and gaining experiences that foster lifelong learning and spirited citizenship.
Sally Newman, Editor of the Journal of Intergenerational Relationship, notes that Whitehouse’s article advances several ideas that prompt further discussion by readers.
“It challenges the notion of Alzheimer’s disease as a disease, and suggests that dementia and cognitive impairments across the lifespan are the biggest challenges to intergenerational relationships, especially when linked to the increasing economic and ecological challenges facing the next generations of human beings.”
Whitehouse’s research is co-published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
The article is currently available for free online access on the journal’s website. Click here to download a PDF or text version. For more information about the Journal of Intergenerational Relationships, and to view the latest table of contents, visit www.tandfonline.com/wjir.
The Journal of Intergenerational Relationships is the forum for scholars, practitioners, policy makers, educators, and advocates to stay abreast of the latest intergenerational research, practice methods and policy initiatives. This is the only journal focusing on the intergenerational field integrating practical, theoretical, empirical, familial, and policy perspectives.
Full bibliographic information The Challenges of Cognitive Aging: Integrating Approaches from Neuroscience to Intergenerational Relationships
Peter Whitehouse MD Ph
Journal of Intergenerational Relationships
Volume 11, Issue 2, 2013