Researchers have found that the environmental toxin BMAA can lead to neurodegenerative disease.
Chronic toxin found in algae can increase the risk of neurodegenerative disease including dementia, Alzheimer’s and Motor Neurone Disease (MND), according to a latest report.
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The environmental toxin called BMAA is commonly produced by blue-green algal blooms and it has been observed in seafood and plants as well which makes it highly likely that the toxin can enter humans too when contaminated food is consumed.
Researchers have found that the Chamorro villagers of the Pacific Island of Guam are suffering from an unusual condition which has symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers suspected that villagers were exposed to something lethal and it was the food that contained the toxin BMAA.
To confirm that, researches conducted experiments on vervet monkeys that lasted for 140 days. In the first experiment, monkeys were fed fruits dosed with BMAA. Monkeys were given equal amounts of L-BMAA and the dietary amino acid L-serine in the second experiment while in the third experiment they were given placebo. The first group developed tangles and amyloid similar to the villagers while the later one showed reduced density of tangles. The third group of vervets did not develop any symptom of the condition.
“Our findings show that chronic exposure to BMAA can trigger Alzheimer's-like brain tangles and amyloid deposits," said Paul Alan Cox, an ethnobotanist at the Institute for EthnoMedicine and lead author of the study. "As far as we are aware, this is the first time researchers have been able to successfully produce brain tangles and amyloid deposits in an animal model through exposure to an environmental toxin."
Similar kind of results was obtained in the subsequent experiments as well where tangles and amyloid deposits in the brain tissues of all the ververt who consumed BMAA. However, there was significant reduction in tangles who also consumed equal amount of L-serine.
But researchers are not recommending L-serine to their patients at this point until any further is conducted in this regard and drug is officially approved by FDA.
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“The FDA has not approved its use for the treatment of neurodegenerative illness and much more research is needed,” said Cox. “However, this new animal model may prove useful in evaluating other potential new Alzheimer’s drugs.”