Researchers at the Boyce Thompson Institute and John Hopkins University discovered that aspirin might be a new treatment option for many degenerative diseases. They investigated a breakdown product of aspirin called salicylic acid. Salicylic acid blocks a certain enzyme in the human body that plays a key role in diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
The enzyme is called GAPDH, (Glyceraldehyde 3-Phosphate Dehydrogenase), and is known for its role in the glucose metabolism. The researchers found out that it has another function. Under certain circumstances (oxidative stress) it kills nerve cells. Depending on the part of the brain where the cells are destroyed diseases like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s can occur.
Co-author Solomon Snyder, professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore said “The new study establishes that GAPDH is a target for salicylate drugs related to aspirin, and hence may be relevant to the therapeutic actions of such drugs.”
Senior author Daniel Klessig said, “A better understanding of how salicylic acid and its derivatives regulate the activities of GAPDH and HMGB1, coupled with the discovery of much more potent synthetic and natural derivatives of salicylic acid, provide great promise for the development of new and better salicylic acid-based treatments of a wide variety of prevalent, devastating diseases.”
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