BEACON TRANSCRIPT – An ongoing study was successful in establishing a direct link between an environmental toxin found in algae blooms and the high number of Alzheimer’s cases. The scientists managed to demonstrate that an environmental neurotoxin induced Alzheimer’s in Guam villagers, after making its way in the villager’s food.
In the last decade, many prestigious medical institutions have sought to conduct extensive research on Alzheimer’s disease. Some of them would focus on finding a cure to this dreadful neurodegenerative disease, while others diverted their attention towards studying the mechanism of this disease, in the hope that they will be able to discover a method to reverse it or to reduce its effects.
Recently, a team of scientists might have discovered an environmental factor that could very well lead to the development of the disease. Their study may be viewed even as a breakthrough when it comes to neurodegenerative diseases because this is the first time someone managed to establish a direct link between Alzheimer’s and an environmental factor.
The novel research project was and is conducted by a team of medical researchers from the University of Miami. Studying the strange illness that affected several villagers in Guam, an island in the Pacific, they have discovered that their condition, which ultimately led to their death, bore a striking similarity to the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
During the autopsy session, the members involved in the study stumbled upon something very significant when analyzing the brain tissue. Each patient struck down by the disease presented brain tangles and amyloid plaques, both of them being intimately related to Alzheimer’s disease.
According to the results of their investigation, the villagers contracted this neurological condition after ingesting food contaminated with a neurotoxin called BMAA or beta-Methylamino-L-alanine, found mainly in algae blooms.
Further lab tests have indicated that diet saturated with this neurotoxin, can, in time, lead to dementia, ALS and even Parkinson.
But more research was needed to see if indeed the algae-borne toxin was the cause of the villager’s death. In order to see if an environmental toxin induced Alzheimer’s in Guam villagers, the researchers perform several experiments of small primates, more specifically on vervets.
In the first experiment, two groups of primates were involved. The first group received a diet rich in BMAA while the other received an L-serine rich diet. As anticipated, after some time, the first group developed brain tangles and amyloid plaques, while the second group exhibit a reduction in the density of the brain tangles.
The second experiment involved 4 groups of primates. The first one received a full dose of BMAA and the second on received a smaller dose containing the neurotoxin. Meanwhile, the third group received equal doses of BMAA and L-serine. The last group received only a diet based in fruits.
The team continued to monitor the vervets’ evolution for 140 days. After this period of times, the scientists found out that the first group developed brain tangles and amyloid plaques while the other two groups displayed reduced formation.