A potentially highly efficacious drug for stroke
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Carnosine may protect the brain from stroke if it is given to patients soon after stroke symptoms start. Professor Arshad Majid from the University of Sheffield in England needs funding to prove this and save lives as drug companies are not interested

What is carnosine?

Carnosine is a small molecule that is found naturally in different parts of the body including the various cells of the brain. There is substantial published scientific literature that supports the view that Carnosine has many beneficial effects on the body and may even slow down ageing.

Carnosine is a versatile molecule in that it protects the brain from immediate and long-term stresses and dangers. It has been shown that Carnosine is a powerful antioxidant and a feel radical scavenger but its benefits go well beyond this property. For example, Carnosine has been shown to inhibit excitotoxicity. (Excitoxicity is the excessive and toxic release of a neurotransmitter called glutamate from damaged brain cells during stroke). Excitotoxicity damages surrounding uninjured cells which may have survived the initial injury caused by stroke. It also buffers the acidic environment in the brain that is created by the stroke which is injurious to brain cells. Significantly, it inhibits enzymes called matrix-metalloproteinases that are released from damaged brain tissue. These enzymes break down the architecture of surrounding normal cells and increase brain damage and reduce the chances of recovery.

When was it first discovered and what does the research show?

Carnosine was first discovered over 100 years ago but its potential medicinal benefits have only recently been unravelling. There is considerable interest in Carnosine as an anti-ageing molecule and many people around the world are taking Carnosine purchased from health food stores to slow down ageing and prevent dementia because some studies show that it can enhance cognition in humans.

Carnosine may help to protect the brain from stroke

Scientists also believe that Carnosine may protect the brain from stroke if it is given to patients soon after their stroke symptoms start. A neurologist and neuroscientist, Professor Arshad Majid at the University of Sheffield in England did a series of experiments in cellular and animal models of stroke and has shown that Carnosine can protect the brain against experimental stroke. This is a considerable discovery because no protective drugs currently exist which protect the brain when stroke occurs. Although clot-busting medications are occasionally used for patients suffering from stroke, side-effects and other timing factors mean that only a small fraction of patients suffering from stroke will receive these medicines.

However, Carnosine with its multiple beneficial effects highlighted above may protect the brain from stroke in humans if it is given in the vein. Professor Majid said that further testing is needed before this medication can be tested in human trials. However, this testing cannot be carried out because there is no patent being held by anyone. This means that large pharmaceutical companies will not be able to make a profit on this medication even if it is successfully developed for human use. Consequently, a potentially valuable and efficacious drug cannot be developed any further due to lack of commercial interest. Professor Majid wants to develop this exciting molecule if funding was available to complete the extra experiments that are needed before clinical testing in humans can begin.

References:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnosine
  2. https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/neuroscience/staff/majid
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27401803
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27401803
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23250994
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23442334
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