Published Tuesday 24 April 2018
By Tim Newman
Fact checked by Jasmin Collier
According to the latest research, a chemical commonly found in fish might prevent Parkinson’s disease. The team also unearth a unique mechanism that could help design better drugs to attack neurodegenerative diseases.
A fish-heavy diet may help to prevent neurodegenerative conditions in later life.
Over the decades, a serious amount of research has gone into investigating whether eating more fish could help to reduce the risk of dementia and improve cognitive health. To date, the evidence supporting this theory is strong.
Omega fatty acids were initially considered to be the chemicals behind fish’s neuroprotective powers, but studies backing this theory up have not been forthcoming.
Although plenty of marketing companies earnestly inform us that omega supplements will prevent dementia and keep our minds nimble for longer, the science does not back this claim up.
So, what component of fish does benefit our brains? According to the latest study to address this question, it might be a protein called parvalbumin.
A calcium-binding protein, parvalbumin is found in large quantities in many types of fish, particularly in muscle tissue. It is the most common trigger of allergic reactions in those who have fish allergies; parvalbumin is able to fire up the immune system by avoiding our digestive juices and passing into the blood.
From fish to Parkinson’s
Although the exact mechanisms that drive Parkinson’s disease are still being unraveled, a particular protein formation is known to be important. Alpha-synuclein, sometimes called the Parkinson’s protein, is found in clumps in the brains of people with Parkinson’s disease.
When proteins fold incorrectly, they tend to stick together, forming fibrils, or amyloids. Amyloids are not always unhealthy, but they are present in a number of neurodegenerative conditions, including Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s.
Recently, researchers from Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden, ran tests to investigate how parvalbumin interacts with alpha-synuclein. Their findings are published this week in the journal Science Reports.