PhD student Mallika Somayajulu-Nitu, under the guidance of biochemistry professor Siyaram Pandey, found that a new formulation of the natural chemical compound Coenzyme Q10 halted the degeneration of neurons in the brains of rats exposed to an herbicide associated with the disease.
A group of 47 lab rats were first injected with paraquat, a toxic herbicide once used as a roadside defoliant and weed-killer. Previous research has demonstrated a link between exposure to paraquat and an elevated human risk for developing Parkinson’s.
Some of the rats were fed water, while others received a water soluble form of Co-Q10, which is found in all cells and is a key component in generating cellular energy. Rats that did not receive the Co-Q10 exhibited considerable brain damage and behavioural symptoms associated with Parkinson’s, while those that received the formula showed no degeneration of brain cells, or impairment of fine motor skills.
The team—which included members of Pandey’s research group, members of a group led by psychology researcher Jerome Cohen, and collaborator Marianna Sikorska from the National Research Council—published its work in the academic journal BMC Neuroscience.
Pandey said the team will continue to conduct further pre-clinical validation of its data, though the research is too new to begin clinical trials with the compound.
Water-soluble Co-Q10 was developed and patented by Dr. Sikorska’s group at NRC and has been licensed to an American company for further commercial development. Pandey said the oil-soluble Co-Q10 sold as a supplement and used in some cosmetics is not effective at protecting brain cells.
From the University of Windsor Daily News, Sept. 24, 2009