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

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht One step closer to reality
20.04.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Entwicklungsbiologie

nachricht The dark side of cichlid fish: from cannibal to caregiver
20.04.2018 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Magnetic nano-imaging on a table top

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Start of work for the world's largest electric truck

20.04.2018 | Interdisciplinary Research

Atoms may hum a tune from grand cosmic symphony

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>