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Monell Chemical Senses Center (September 29, 2009): Oleocanthal May Help Prevent, Treat Alzheimer's
Oleocanthal, a naturally-occuring compound found in extra-virgin olive oil, alters the structure of neurotoxic proteins believed to contribute to the debilitating effects of Alzheimer's disease. This structural change impedes the protein's ability to damage brain nerve cells.
"The findings may help identify effective preventative measures and lead to improved therapeutics in the fight against Alzheimer's disease," said study co-leader Paul A. S. Breslin, PhD, a sensory psychobiologist at the Monell Center.
Known as ADDLs, these highly toxic proteins bind within the neural synapses of the brains of Alzheimer's patients and are believe to directly disrupt nerve cell function, eventually leading to memory loss, cell death, and global disruption of brain function. Synapses are specialized junctions that allow one nerve cell to send information to another.