COFFEE MAY REVERSE ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE

<em>Mice who were fed coffee showed big signs of mental improvement.</em>

Mice who were fed coffee showed big signs of mental improvement.

A few cups of coffee a day may be all that is needed to reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s disease, new research suggests.

Scientists have uncovered powerful evidence that caffeine not only helps to stave off the disease but can treat it.

They hope soon to follow up the initial results from animal experiments with human patient trials.

US neuroscientist Dr Gary Arendash, who led the research, said: “The new findings provide evidence that caffeine could be a viable ‘treatment’ for established Alzheimer’s disease, and not simply a protective strategy.

“That’s important because caffeine is a safe drug for most people. It easily enters the brain, and it appears to directly affect the disease process.”

A key aspect of Alzheimer’s is sticky clumps of abnormal protein in the brain called beta amyloid plaques.

Mice with a rodent equivalent of the disease showed a 50% reduction in levels of amyloid protein in their brains after scientists spiked their drinking water with caffeine.

The change was reflected in their behaviour as the mice developed better memories and quicker thinking.

Humans receiving an equivalent dose for their body weight would be consuming 500 milligrams of caffeine – or five eight ounce cups of ordinary coffee – a day.

The same amount of caffeine can be obtained by drinking two cups of strong “coffee shop” coffee, 14 cups of tea, or 20 cola drinks.

Dr Huntington Potter, director of the Florida Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centre (ADRC) in Tampa, where the studies were conducted, said: “Our goal is to obtain the funding needed to translate the therapeutic discoveries in mice into well-designed clinical trials.”

The new research was reported in two studies published online today in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Neil Hunt, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “This research in mice suggests that coffee may actually reverse some element of memory impairment.”

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