HKBU develops new Chinese medicine formula for Alzheimer’s disease

Mouse model experiment results showed that the formula reduces the levels of amyloid-beta (Aβ) and insoluble hyperphosphorylated-tau protein

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HKBUHong Kong Baptist University’s (HKBU) School of Chinese Medicine researchers have developed a Chinese medicine formula named NeuroDefend.

The new formula offers a potential novel treatment for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). As per mouse model experiment results, the formula reduces the levels of amyloid-beta (Aβ) and insoluble hyperphosphorylated-tau protein, which are the major hallmarks of AD, in mice brains. It also enhances cognitive function and memory in mice.

The formula has been developed by a research team led by Professor Li Min, Professor of the Teaching and Research Division and Associate Dean of the School of Chinese Medicine at HKBU.

Says Professor Li, “Traditional Chinese medicine adopts a broad pharmacological approach to treating neurodegenerative diseases by deploying a combination of herbal medicines with different treatment effects.”

He adds: “Selection of the six herbal ingredients and their ratios in NeuroDefend is based on the research conducted by our team over the years. NeuroDefend will contribute to the development of novel, effective traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of AD in humans.”

Alzheimer’s is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that constitutes 60 to 70 per cent of dementia cases worldwide.

Senile plaques

AD is characterised by the “senile plaques” that are formed by the abnormal accumulation of Aβ, and the neurofibrillary tangles associated with the abnormal accumulation of hyperphosphorylated tau-associated neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) in the brain.

The researchers led by Prof Li found that Huang-Lian-Jie-Du-Tang (HLJDT), a traditional Chinese herbal formula comprised of Huang Qin, Huang Lian, Huang Bai and Zhi Zi that is used to treat cerebral ischemia, could significantly reduce Aβ levels in mouse models when Huang Qin was removed.

The team also found that Yan Hu Suo in Yuan-Hu Zhi Tong (YZT), a Chinese herbal formula used to treat pain and neuralgia, can regulate the aggregation of tau proteins.

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Researchers combined the modified HLJDT (HLJDT without Huang Qin) and Yan Hu Suo with two other herbal medicines, namely Dan Shen and Gou Teng, to optimise the formula for AD treatment.

Supported by modelling techniques and data analysis, the researchers combined the six herbal medicines in different ratios to form 24 different formulas.

Three of them were found to be effective in treating Alzheimer’s disease in a cell disease model. After conducting experiments on brain permeability and toxicity, the most promising formula was named NeuroDefend, and it was selected for further studies in pre-clinical mouse models to calculate its efficacy as a treatment for Alzheimer’s.

(With inputs from The OnLook News Research Bureau)

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