Washington, Apr 20 (ANI): Incorporating an omega three fatty acid- found in fish oil- in the diet could help prevent diseases like Parkinson's and Huntington's.
Dr. Nicolas Bazan, form the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, showed that the omega three fatty acid, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), prevented the misfolding of a protein resulting from a gene mutation in neurodegenerative diseases.
For the study, researchers developed a cell model with a mutation of the Ataxin-1 gene.
The defective Ataxin-1 gene induces the misfolding of the protein produced by the gene, which fails to get properly processed by the cell machinery and thus results in tangled clumps of toxic protein that eventually kill the cell.
The Ataxin-1 misfolding defect could cause Spinocerebellar Ataxia- a disabling disorder that affects speech, eye movement, and hand coordination at early ages of life.
Researchers found that DHA could protect cells from this defect.
Previously, researchers had discovered that neuroprotectin D1 (NPD1)-a naturally occurring molecule in the human brain that is derived from DHA-also promotes brain cell survival.
In this system NPD1 could set free the dying cells with the pathological type of Ataxin-1, keeping their integrity intact.
"These experiments provide proof of principle that neuroprotectin D1 can be applied therapeutically to combat various neurodegenerative diseases," said Bazan.
He added: "Furthermore, this study provides the basis of new therapeutic approaches to manipulate retinal pigment epithelial cells to be used as a source of NPD1 to treat patients with disorders characterized by this mutation like Parkinson's, Retinitis Pigmentosa and some forms of Alzheimer's Disease."
The study was presented at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, Nouvelle C Room, at the American Society for Nutrition, Experimental Biology 2009 Annual Meeting. (ANI)