SEOUL(Dispatches) -- A bacterium found among the soil close to roots of ginseng plants could provide a new approach for the treatment of Alzheimer’s.
A team working with YoungSoo Kim (Yonsei University, Incheon, South Korea) and Dong-Chan Oh (Seoul National University, South Korea) has now identified a natural substance called rhizolutin that may provide a basis for novel Alzheimer’s disease treatments. Rhizolutin is produced by a Streptomyces strain that grows in the root zone of ginseng plants. Ginseng is an Asian plant used in traditional medicine, where it is said to be a tonic.
A screening of natural product libraries indicated that rhizolutin is a drug lead that can dissociate amyloid-β (Aβ) plaques and tau tangles (fiber-like aggregates of tau proteins), both of which are typical hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. Such deposits form when amyloid-β proteins fold incorrectly to form β-sheets, which can aggregate to form insoluble plaques and fibers. These lead to the death of nerve cells, nerve inflammation, brain atrophy, and the cognitive losses these entail. No effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease has been found.