A drug contained in snake oil may help in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.
The drug may help the body’s natural defences against the build-up of amyloid plaques in the brain.
Amyloid plaques are lumps of protein which are usually kept in check by enzymes.
In people with Alzheimer’s, though, these enzymes do not do their job.
The molecule, which was discovered in snake venom, could help activate the enzymes and break down the plaques.
The snake venom originally came from a pit viper, which is found in South and Central America.
This is the result of a long search stretching back years by Dr Sanjaya Kuruppu.
The scientists have now developed a synthetic version and found that it works on human cells in the lab.
Although it might sound unusual, snake venoms are actually a common inspiration for pharmaceutical research.
The study was published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports (Smith et al., 2016).
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
Alzheimer’s image from Shutterstock