November 22, 2021
Neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s, are a growing concern among millions of people in the United States. The cost of caring for individuals with these conditions adds up to hundreds of billions of dollars each year. However, a team of researchers from The University of Texas at El Paso may have found a unique solution in an unlikely source — used coffee grounds.
The team, led by Jyotish Kumar, a doctoral student in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, discovered that Carbon Quantum Dots (CACQDs) derived from spent coffee grounds could protect brain cells from damage caused by neurodegenerative diseases. Unlike current treatments that only manage symptoms, CACQDs show promising neuroprotective effects by addressing the underlying causes of these disorders.
Neurodegenerative diseases primarily involve the loss of neurons or brain cells, leading to impairments in motor functions, speech, cognitive abilities, and other basic bodily functions. Elevated levels of harmful molecules called free radicals and the aggregation of amyloid protein fragments contribute to the development of these disorders.
The team’s research demonstrated that CACQDs exhibit neuroprotective properties in a variety of models, including Parkinson’s disease caused by pesticide exposure. These coffee-derived nanoparticles remove free radicals and inhibit the aggregation of amyloid protein fragments without significant side effects. In theory, this treatment can be effective in preventing the progression of neurodegenerative diseases in their early stages.
The extraction process of CACQDs from used coffee grounds is environmentally friendly and cost-effective, making it a sustainable approach. By “cooking” coffee grounds at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for four hours, the researchers transform caffeic acid’s carbon structure into CACQDs. The abundance of coffee grounds allows for an economical and scalable extraction process.
This groundbreaking research has the potential to revolutionize the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders by offering a cure rather than just symptom management. The team is seeking additional funding to support further testing and development of a medication that can prevent the majority of neurodegenerative diseases caused by factors other than genetics.
- What are neurodegenerative diseases?
Neurodegenerative diseases are disorders characterized by the loss of neurons or brain cells, resulting in impairments in motor functions, cognitive abilities, and other basic bodily functions.
- How do CACQDs derived from coffee grounds work?
CACQDs remove harmful free radicals in the brain and inhibit the aggregation of amyloid protein fragments, addressing the underlying causes of neurodegenerative diseases.
- Is the extraction process environmentally friendly?
Yes, the extraction process of CACQDs from used coffee grounds is considered “green chemistry” and environmentally friendly.
- How effective are CACQDs in protecting brain cells?
Research has shown that CACQDs derived from coffee grounds exhibit neuroprotective properties in various models, including Parkinson’s disease caused by pesticide exposure.
- What is the potential impact of this research?
This research has the potential to lead to the development of a medication that can prevent the majority of neurodegenerative diseases, offering a cure rather than just symptom management.