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Natura Therapeutics and USF receive NIH grant to study green tea compound for Alzheimer's

Tampa, Florida (June 2, 2009) --Researchers affiliated with Natura Therapeutics, Inc., Tampa, Florida, and the University of South Florida (USF) have jointly received a one-year, $110,000 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine to continue studying TeaMem, a compound made from green tea.

TeaMem holds promise for preventing and treating Alzheimer's disease (AD), a disease that the Alzheimer's Association says today affects as many as 5.2 million Americans. The most recent grant follows two other NIH grants to develop and evaluate TeaMem -- a $160,000 grant for 2007-2008 and a $140,000 grant for 2008-2009. The research conducted under these three grants was also supported through matching funds from the Florida High Tech Corridor Matching Grants Research Program.

According to Jun Tan, M.D., Ph.D., a professor in the USF Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, and one of the grant's principal investigators, the grant will be used to investigate the role of TeaMem in opposition to cleavage of the amyloid precursor protein protelysis (APP) into Abeta peptides and resultant cerebral amyloidosis, a process identified as a key feature in AD pathology.

"Our recent findings suggest that strategies that promote non-amyloidogenic/alpha-secretase APP processing may have significant potential for the treatment of AD," said Tan.

This SBIR grant, the most recent of three NIH grants, allows the continuing development of TeaMem and its evaluation in the test tube (in vitro). The latest grant provides for testing in vitro and in the body (in vivo) using mouse models to evaluate the effects of TeaMem.

Early tests will evaluate TeaMem in promoting non-amyloidogenic APP alpha-secretase proteolysis and then examine its therapeutic and preventive effects on AD pathology and cognitive impairment.

"We expect to clearly define this non-amyloidogenic mechanism and identify the potential molecular drug targets essential for formulating novel, effective treatments against AD," explained Cyndy D. Sanberg, Ph.D., senior vice president of Natura Therapeutics, Inc. and the other PI on the grant.

Tests, including cognitive tests, will use mouse models for oral administration of TeaMem to a prophylactic treatment group that will be compared to a second group with AD-like pathology. Groups will be compared for the effect of reducing AD-like pathology and behavioral impairment. The studies, said Tan, could lay the groundwork for AD clinical trials in humans in the near future.

In their 2008 report, the Alzheimer's Association ( noted that AD was the nation's sixth leading cause of death and predicts 10 million baby boomers will develop AD. The direct and indirect costs of AD exceed $148 billion annually, said the Association.


Contact: Dr. Jun Tan
University of South Florida Health

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