Key to antidepressant may be in flowers

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Flower power: scientists have discovered that a compound derived from South African flowers may help treat neurological diseases including depression. A number of botanical substances have been tested in a laboratory model of the blood-brain barrier and the conclusions are hopeful.

South African daffodils may hold the key

Researchers from the University of Copenhagen in past experiments have documented that substances from the South African plan species Crinum and Cyrtanthus affect the mechanisms in the brain that are key to depressive symptomology. New research has furthered those findings. A research team based at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences has now shown that several South African daffodils contain plant compounds with characteristics that enable them to negotiate the hard-to-penetrate blood-brain barrier. This is a key challenge to any new drug development meant to help with neurological disease.

Breaking through the barriers

“Several of our plant compounds can probably be smuggled past the brain’s effective barrier proteins. We examined various compounds for their
influence on the transporter proteins in the brain. This study was made in a genetically-modified cell model of the blood-brain barrier that contains high levels of the transporter P-glycoprotein. Our results are promising, and several of the chemical compounds studied should therefore be tested further, as candidates for long-term drug development,” explained Associate Professor Birger Brodin.

Determined to find a treatment

While it may take years to develop the drugs, Professor Brodin is not deterred. “We have a long-term focus on the body’s barrier tissue – and in recent years particularly the transport of drug compounds across the blood-brain barrier. More than 90% of all potential drugs fail the test by not making out through the barrier, or being pumped out as soon as they do get in. Studies of natural therapies are a valuable source of inspiration, giving us knowledge that can also be used in other contexts.”

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology

 
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