The weapon against Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s may lie in ordinary kitchen waste

The coffee grounds you throw away every morning may hold quantum secrets that can help protect against dementia and other diseases.

Scientists have found that so-called caffeic acid-based carbon quantum dots (CACQDs), which can be made from coffee grounds, can protect neurons in the brain from damage caused by various neurodegenerative diseases, says a new study in the journal Environmental research.

These CACQDs protect neurons from neurodegenerative diseases only when the disease is triggered by factors such as obesity, age, and exposure to pesticides and other toxic environmental chemicals.

“Caffeic acid-based carbon quantum dots have the potential to be a game-changer in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases,” paper co-author Jyotish Kumar, a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Texas at El Paso, said in a statement. “This is because none of the current treatments cure the diseases; they only help relieve the symptoms. Our goal is to find a cure by addressing the atomic and molecular basis that drives these diseases.”

Brain anatomy
Stock image of brain anatomy. Scientists have found quantum dots in coffee grounds that could protect the brain from neurodegeneration.

Neurodegenerative diseases include Alzheimer’s disease – a form of dementia -, Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease, all of which are primarily associated with the loss of neurons or brain cells and the resulting loss of brain function. Millions of people in the United States live with these conditions and the cost of caring for them totals billions each year.

These diseases can be genetic or triggered by lifestyle or environmental factors. Environmental neurodegenerative diseases often share common features in their early stages, including increased levels of free radicals in the brain – harmful molecules linked to cancer and other diseases – as well as amyloid-forming proteins that begin to aggregate and can lead to amyloid plaques Brain. Amyloid plaques are one of the hallmarks of dementia.

The University of Texas at El Paso researchers found that the CACQDs were neuroprotective in test tube experiments, cell lines and other models of Parkinson’s disease in which the disease was caused by the pesticide paraquat. The CACQD worked by removing free radicals and preventing them from causing damage and by inhibiting the aggregation of amyloid protein fragments.

The scientists suggest that the CACQDs could therefore be used in the very early stages of neurodegenerative diseases to prevent their further development.

“It is critical to address these disorders before they reach the clinical stage,” Mahesh Narayan, a professor at the University of Texas at El Paso, a member of the Royal Society of Chemistry and co-author of the study, said in the statement.

“At this point it’s probably too late. All current treatments that can treat advanced symptoms of neurodegenerative disease are simply no longer affordable for most people. Our goal is to find a solution that can prevent the most cases of these diseases at once. Costs that are manageable for as many patients as possible.”

The CACQDs are particularly suitable for this role because the caffeic acid from which they are derived can penetrate the blood-brain barrier and therefore act on the cells in the brain, where neurodegenerative diseases cause the most damage.

Amyloid plaques
Stock image of amyloid plaques growing around a neuron. Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s involve the loss of neurons or brain cells and loss of brain function.

Quantum dots are semiconductor particles just a few nanometers in diameter that have several strange and special properties that have applications in biology, chemistry and physics. These CACQDs are extracted from coffee grounds by boiling them at 200 degrees for four hours, making the process both economical and sustainable due to the abundance of coffee grounds.

The researchers hope to further investigate the applications of these CACQDs in treating neurodegeneration, with the goal of developing a drug that can prevent environmentally induced diseases.

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