An omega-3 fatty acid has been found to prevent the misfolding of a brain protein resulting from a gene mutation in neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinsons disease, according to new research.
The study was conducted by Dr. Nicolas Bazan from LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans and presented on April 19 at the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition and Experimental Biology.
Dr. Bazans team developed a cell model with a mutation of the Ataxin-1 gene that causes the misfolding of the protein produced by the gene. These misshaped proteins cannot be processed by brain cells, resulting in tangled clumps of toxic protein that eventually kill the cells.
However, the research team found that the omega-3 fatty acid known as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) protects cells from this defect.
Earlier, research conducted in the same lab discovered that neuroprotectin D1 (NPD1), a naturally-occurring molecule in the human brain that is derived from DHA, is capable of shielding cells with the mutated gene.
“These experiments provide proof that neuroprotectin D1 can be applied therapeutically to combat various neurodegenerative diseases,” says Dr. Bazan.
“[It also] provides the basis of new therapeutic approaches to treat patients with disorders characterized by this mutation like Parkinsons, Retinitis Pigmentosa and some forms of Alzheimers disease,” he adds.
For those who may not get enough fish oil from their diet, nutritional health supplements may be a good alternative.