Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Blue-Green Algal Links to Alzheimer’s-Like Neurological Disease

05.04.2005


An international team of researchers, including scientists from the University of Dundee have announced that cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) found throughout the world may produce a toxin linked to certain types of neurological disease.



Researchers have previously proposed a link between beta-methyl-amino-alanine (BMAA), a neurotoxic amino acid found in cyanobacteria and an Alzheimer’s-like neurodegenerative disease suffered by the Chamorro people on Guam in the Pacific. The Chamorro people eat the seeds from cycads, plants found only in warm regions of the world which were found to produce BMAA.

Dr. Paul Cox, Director of the Institute for Ethnomedicine of the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Hawaii, and his colleagues found that BMAA is produced by a cyanobacterium resident in special roots of the cycad. Interest increased when BMAA was found in brain tissues of several Alzheimer’s disease patients in Canada.


A network of cyanobacterial scientists, including Dr James Metcalf, Louise Morrison and Professor Geoffrey Codd of the School of Life Sciences at Dundee with Paul Cox, and partners in Stockholm and Hawaii are now investigating the widescale occurrence of BMAA throughout the cyanobacteria and its significance to health.

Professor Codd said, “Samples of cyanobacteria were collected from freshwaters, seas, soil, lichen, a cave and a hot spring from across the world. Of a sample of 30 cultures, ninety five percent of them were shown to produce BMAA”

The Dundee laboratory is internationally recognised for its research on various toxic substances in cyanobacterial blooms and how to reduce the problems which these can present to water-users and consumers. “Whilst our earlier surveys have shown toxin production to be common but patchy among cyanobacteria, for example in lakes, this is the first time that we have encountered such a widespread production of a toxin among the different cyanobacterial groups”, explains Codd.

The study raises questions, the scientists caution, “Whilst BMAA is neurotoxic, the nature of the association with human neurological disease remains uncertain” says Codd. “However we now know that BMAA is widely produced by cyanobacteria from throughout the world, in addition to a rather specialist cyanobacterium on a small Pacific island. This indicates that human exposure to BMAA may also occur more widely and that BMAA should be monitored in water resources, including reservoirs, if they contain cyanobacteria. Now that we know about BMAA in cyanobacteria, steps can be taken to reduce the risks to health which the substance may present.”

The findings of the international team are announced in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the USA.

Angela Durcan | alfa
Further information:
http://www.dundee.ac.uk/pressreleases/prapr05/algae.html

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersensitive through quantum entanglement

28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy under real ambient pressure conditions

28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Mice provide insight into genetics of autism spectrum disorders

28.06.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>