A new study now suggests that coffee could combat both Parkinson’s disease and a form of dementia.
According to the study, two compounds, including caffeine, in coffee work together to prevent the accumulation of a toxic protein in the brains of mice.
Known as alpha-synuclein, the protein is associated with both Parkinson’s and dementia with lewy bodies (DLB).
The study tested on rodents genetically at risk of both diseases and showed the combination of caffeine and the compound EHT prevented alpha-synuclein from building-up after just six months.
The scientists now hope caffeine and EHT could be combined into a drug to help treat Parkinson’s and DLB in humans, which are both incurable.
The research was carried out by Rutgers University and led by neurologist Dr M Maral Mouradian.
PD is a neurodegenerative disorder that mainly affects the dopamine-producing brain networks in the substantia nigra.
Symptoms include shaking, stiffness, and difficulty walking, balancing and coordinating.
Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB) is a type of dementia that shares symptoms with both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. It occurs when alpha-synuclein appears in nerve cells in the brain.
Treatments for both diseases focus on reducing the protein’s gene expression and blocking its aggregation.
The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Caffeine has previously been found to preserve brain health, with the role of coffee’s thousands of other compounds being less clear until now.