July 19th, 2019

To Your Health: Compound in Saskatchewan wastewater may help Alzheimer’s sufferers

By Gillian Slade on January 28, 2019.

Saskatchewan wastewater may provide a compound that is used to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

A research team at the University of Saskatchewan is working on the extraction of protein from the vast quantity of wastewater at ethanol plants.

The protein/compound in the wastewater called stillage, glyceryl phosphoryl choline (GPC), is part of a pharmaceutical drug called choline alfoscerate. This is used in Korea, Russia and some eastern European and South American countries to treat Alzheimer’s disease symptoms. In North America it is used as a cognition enhancer “nootropic,” according to a press release from the University of Saskatchewan.

This is how it works. The GPC causes the body to increase its production of acetylcholine, which sends signals to cells and plays a key role in memory and cognition.

Even those without Alzheimer’s disease benefit. GPC enhances athletic performance and the recovery process after a heart attack or stroke.

What wonderful news when a waste product can provide something for which there is a world-wide demand?

The potential from this product extends even further .

There is a another compound from the wastewater, 1,3-propanediol (1,3-PD) which is a non-toxic antifreeze, a solvent and is part of polymers used to manufacture plastics and resins.

“We are essentially aiming to make clinically and commercially useful products from this stillage that’s now used as animal feed,” said Dr. Martin Reaney, professor college of agriculture and bioresources and the research team leader at the University of Saskatchewan. “These products could be more valuable than the ethanol from the processing plants.”

The research team has been awarded a grant to increase production and refine the stillage to a clinical-quality product.

“The idea is to take a multi-front approach to feeding the brain of Alzheimer’s patients by coupling together GPC and other brain-enhancing compounds,” said Reaney.

A cost effective method to produce the pure form of GPC is the present quest for the research team.

The GPC that is currently used is made from lecithin obtained from eggs and refined soy.

This new research means it would be produced entirely from a vegetable-based source.

Talks are taking place about the supply of more wastewater to provide enough GPC for 2.5 billion, 600 milligram doses a year.

Estimates suggest there could be 15 million people in North America with Alzheimer’s disease by 2050 and it sounds as though this research team is aiming to meet that demand and more.

Here’s to researchers at University of Saskatchewan and here’s To Your Health.

To Your Health is a weekly column by Gillian Slade, health reporter for the News, bringing you news on health issues and research from around the world. You can reach her at gslade@medicinehatnews.com or 403-528-8635.

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