Baptist University has developed a Chinese medicine formula that could be a potential new treatment for Alzheimer's disease, with pre-clinical tests showing it can improve cognitive function and memory in mice.
Alzheimer's disease is a progressive brain disorder characterized by memory loss. Researchers from the university's School of Chinese Medicine yesterday said the formula, NeuroDefend, reduces levels of amyloid-beta and insoluble hyperphosphorylated-tau protein - major features of Alzheimer's - in mice brains.
NeuroDefend is a combination of six herbal medicines. Three of them are from a traditional Chinese herbal formula called Huang Lian Jie Du Tang. It is used for cerebral ischemia treatment and can significantly reduce amyloid-beta levels in mouse models when one of its four ingredients, Huang Qin, is removed.
Another herb included is Yan Hu Suo in Yuan Hu Zhi Tong, which can regulate the aggregation of tau proteins. The other two herbs are Dan Shen and Gou Teng.
"NeuroDefend will contribute to the development of novel, effective traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease in humans," said Li Min, HKBU associate dean of the Chinese medicine school who led the team of researchers.
The team gave 50 mice in the treatment group low, medium and high daily dosages of NeuroDefend orally for three or eight months. Another 40 mice were put in the control group.
The results showed that amyloid-beta levels and abnormal tau protein aggregation in the treatment group were both significantly reduced by 30 to 40 percent.
A patent for the invention has been filed in the US and China and the research team welcomes interest in the commercialization and pilot production of NeuroDefend for further study.
But the public are advised not to buy traditional Chinese formulas on their own and should instead consult a Chinese medicine practitioner.