Escudo de la República de Colombia

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Amazonian plants prevent neurodegenerative diseases

Plant alcoholic extracts of the Piperaceae and Euphorbiaceae families could be used to produce drugs against Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.

Bogotá D. C., 10 de enero de 2017Agencia de Noticias UN-

Plants from the Ucumarí Natural Reserve and the Caquetá foothills were chosen.

They hope to mitigate the effects of diseases on the nervous system.

Thanks to this drug, treatments could now be inexpensive.

These plants are recognized for their antioxidant activity and their healing properties.

Plant alcoholic extracts help protect neurons and avoid their death.

As explained by Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) in Bogotá M.Sc. in Neurosciences César Augusto Martínez, who carried out a research project to assess six plant varieties which have properties which help recover mitochondrial viability, in other words, their alcoholic extracts have neuroprotective activities.

The goal is to develop compounds which protect the nervous system and mitigate or delay neurodegenerative processes of the central nervous system diseases.

After reviewing ethnobotanical research projects from UNal and the Universidad de la Amazonia, Martínez chose a total of 46 plants of the Province of Caquetá foothills and the Ucumarí Natural Reserve (in the Province of Risaralda). After he chose 4 varieties of the Piperaceae family (Piper tuberculatum Jacq, Piper peltatum Ruiz & Pav, Piper krukoffii Yunck, Piper arboreum Aubl), and 2 varieties of the Euphorbiaceae family (Acalypha diversifolia Jacq and Alchornea calophylla).

“These plants have been used by indigenous communities for thousands of years and also by colonists of these regions. Their antioxidant and healing properties are very recognized for the treatment of leishmaniasis and dengue, as well as for anxiety and depression,” said Martínez.

After collecting the plants they obtained alcoholic extracts through drying processes in ethanol solutions; after they isolated some of the compounds and assembled cell lines from mouse mesencephalon which is very similar to human neurons.

“We chose neurons which had greater similarities when treating diseases as those related to myelin production,” said Martínez.

To mimic alterations of the central nervous system they applied a neurotoxic to the cell lines which in great amounts causes failures directly on the neuron mitochondria and afterward treated with neuroprotective plants extracts. They also compared them with cells without these compounds so they could adequately establish the capability of offsetting the damage.

Six hours later the plant extracts were able to decrease the action of the neurotoxic in the cells.

The following step was to fraction the extracts with the purpose of establishing in which part of the extract is the compound which performs the neuroprotective activity which contributes to battle the disease.

“This is a project which will take time but having identified the first extracts is a significant advance. This could help for drugs and treatments for these diseases to be less expensive using a wealth which up to now just begins to be taken into consideration in Colombia, where these types of plants are abundant,” he said.

Increase in life expectancy and diseases

Due that around the word life expectancy tends to increase, neurodegenerative diseases that appear during old age are more frequent and start to be considered as public health issues both in countries in Europe and Asia as in the United States.

Therefore the need to develop drugs which in the future contribute to preventing diseases such as Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis.

The research project was carried out with the support of Professor William Trujillo of the Universidad Tecnológica de Pereira, whom at the time was a professor of the Universidad de la Amazonía and the UNal Institute of Genetics.

(Por: Fin/VC/DMH/LOF
)
N.° 810

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