Whether this type of treatment could reverse plaques that have already formed in the brain isn't known, Wanker said.
He noted that the study remains basic science, and he was cautious about recommending green tea as a way of preventing Alzheimer's disease. "I don't want to do a lot of speculating which could point people in the direction that could be harmful," Wanker said. "We have to go step-by-step."
One expert believes the approach could yield real results, however.
"Red wine, yellow curry and green tea have suspected health benefits because of high content of antioxidants," said Greg M. Cole, a neuroscientist at the Greater Los Angeles VA Healthcare System, and associate director of the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. He was not involved in the study.
"This study provides evidence that a compound called EGCG, one of the major polyphenols in green tea, may be useful for diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, because it can block the formation of the filament-forming protein aggregates implicated in causing disease," Cole said.
One novel aspect of the study is the authors' demonstration that EGCG prevents toxic filament formation by redirecting the aggregating proteins to make non-toxic proteins, Cole said.
"This is surprising, because similar protein aggregate spheres called amyloid oligomers can be highly toxic to neurons and synapses," Cole said. "It will be important for the authors to prove that the EGCG-directed proteins also lack toxicity to synapses which were not present in the systems used to test toxicity," he said.
Assuming that the green tea compound has a stable effect and chronically blocks toxicity to real neurons and synapses, it could have genui
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