Used coffee grounds can be repurposed for many things, including as a pest repellent, fertilizer, or skin exfoliant. A new study finds they could also be helpful against neurodegenerative diseases.
Research recently published in the journal Environmental Research investigated the protective effect of a component within coffee grounds – caffeic-acid based Carbon Quantum Dots, or CACQDs – against neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The lab test findings show they could be effective against early disease caused by environmental or lifestyle factors.
Dr. Mahesh Narayan, study co-author and professor in the University of Texas at El Paso’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, says, “It is critical to address these disorders before they reach the clinical stage. At that point, it is likely too late. Any current treatments that can address advanced symptoms of neurodegenerative disease are simply beyond the means of most people. Our aim is to come up with a solution that can prevent most cases of these conditions at a cost that is manageable for as many patients as possible.”
To test the effectiveness of CACQDs, the researchers used test tube experiments, cell lines, and other models of Parkinson’s disease caused by the pesticide paraquat. The findings showed that in the brain, CACQDs were able to remove free radicals, which can damage cells or cause illness. They were also able to stop them from causing damage, and helped limit the binding of amyloid protein fragments.
Because of their findings, the researchers believe that using a treatment based on CACQDs in humans may one day help prevent full-on disease in Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, or similar illnesses, if it’s administered in the early stages. It may also help as an early treatment when the diseases are caused by lifestyle factors like obesity, or age.
Jyotish Kumar, lead researcher and doctoral student in UTEP’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, says, “Caffeic-acid based Carbon Quantum Dots have the potential to be transformative in the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders. This is because none of the current treatments resolve the diseases; they only help manage the symptoms. Our aim is to find a cure by addressing the atomic and molecular underpinnings that drive these conditions.”
Though much more research is needed, the team believes their work could be a stepping stone to a medication that prevents neurodegenerative diseases not caused by genetics.
Caffeic acid is a polyphenol, a compound with antioxidant properties. Other research has found that polyphenol-containing foods may protect against dementia. You can read more on that here.