How coffee might protect against Parkinson’s

Coffee is thought to protect the brain against Parkinson’s disease. A recent study investigates which compounds might give coffee its neuroprotective powers. The findings may eventually lead to innovative new treatments.

Understanding how coffee protects the brain could give Parkinson’s drug discovery a boost.

More than 60,000 people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in the United States each year.

Symptoms include stiffness and difficulty with balance and coordination.

It is a progressive, neurodegenerative condition and, currently, there is no cure. Modern treatments can only help manage symptoms.

Scientists do not understand why some people develop Parkinson’s disease, but others do not. However, they have unpicked some of the neurological changes that take place.

One of the most critical changes appears to be a buildup of a specific type of misfolded protein in the brain. This is known to trigger cell death, which eventually leads to the symptoms of Parkinson’s.

The protein in question is alpha-synuclein, which aggregates and joins up with other compounds to create so-called Lewy bodies.

Alpha-synuclein can pass from neuron to neuron, spreading damage across different regions of the brain.