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Algae Bloom Toxin May Up Risk of Alzheimer’s, Other Brain Disorders

Scientists have long been trying to find what actually cause Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and don’t yet have clearer understanding about this neurodegenerative disorder. Although the root cause of Alzheimer’s onset still remains largely unknown, several studies have found several risk factors that can cause this memory-robbing disease.

One more addition to the growing list of risk factors associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease is environmental toxins.

A new study has suggested a possible link between chronic exposure to a toxin from blue-green algae species and a range of degenerative brain disorders.

According to the study, conducted by scientists at the Institute for EthnoMedicine, a non-profit medical research organization, and the University of Miami Brain Endowment Bank, excessive exposure to BMAA, a neurotoxin found in some harmful algal blooms, could increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other neurodegenerative illnesses.

The BMAA toxin, found in some lakes and desert topcrusts, is amino acid produced by blue-green algae species and is known to deposit in shellfish from contaminated marine waters.

For the research, the scientist team fed Vervet monkeys fruit dosed with this neurotoxin and found similar neurofibrillary (brain) tangles and amyloid plaque accumulation in the brains of the animals.

The team specifically looked for amyloid plaque deposits in the monkey’s brains, which are associated with Alzheimer’s and other brain deteriorating disorders in humans.

“Our findings show that chronic exposure to BMAA can trigger Alzheimer’s-like brain tangles and amyloid deposits,” said Paul Alan Cox, an ethnobotanist at the Institute for EthnoMedicine at the Institute for Ethnomedicine in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and principal investigator of the study. “As far as we are aware, this is the first time researchers have been able to successfully replicate brain tangles and amyloid deposits in an animal model through exposure to an environmental toxin.”

“They looked identical to what you see in Alzheimer’s Disease, to the point that Dr. Robert Switzer (one of the neuropatholigists) mistakenly thought we had been looking at Alzheimer’s slides,” Cox added. “No-one had seen tangles in an animal before…and the higher the exposure, the denser the tangles.”

Scientists long have suspected a link between exposure to the neurotoxin BMAA and neurodegenerative illness, but never established a strong association between the two.

“This study takes a leap forward in showing causality—that BMAA causes disease,” said Deborah Mash, director of University of Miami Brain Endowment Bank and co-author of the study. “The tangles and amyloid deposits produced were nearly identical to those found in the brain tissue of the Pacific Islanders who died from the Alzheimer’s-like disease.”

The study is published Tuesday in the science journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. (Source:

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Information for Indian tourists travelling by land:- 72 hours (-) C-19 report, CCMC form and Antigen Test at entry point