Daffodils could hold key to treating depression
Scientists have proved that Wordsworth was actually right to say daffodils are a source of joy.
The poet wrote that at the mere thought of the flowers “my heart with pleasure fills”, and now scientists say they could help treat depression.
Studies have found that compounds in Crinum and Crytanthus – South African species of snowdrops and daffodils – are able to pass through the blood brain barrier, the defensive wall that keeps the brain isolated.
According to scientists from the University of Copenhagen, the wall is a major problem in treating brain diseases including depression because drugs are pumped out as quickly as they are put it.
Research showed that nine out of ten compounds cannot penetrate the brain. But Professor Birgen Broden said the compounds from the South African flowers were able to pass through the barrier.
This could hold the key to delivering drugs to the brain and treating brain diseases.
“Several of our plant compounds can probably be smuggled past the brain’s effective barrier proteins,” the Telegraph quoted Professor Broden as saying in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology.
“We examined various compounds for their influence on the transporter proteins in the brain. This study was made in a genetically-modified cell model of the blood-brain barrier that contains high levels of the transporter P-glycoprotein.
“Our results are promising, and several of the chemical compounds studied should therefore be tested further, as candidates for long-term drug development,” he stated.
Professor Broden pointed out that the biggest challenge in medical treatment of diseases of the brain is that the drug cannot pass through the blood-brain barrier.
“The blood vessels of the brain are impenetrable for most compounds, one reason being the very active transporter proteins. You could say that the proteins pump the drugs out of the cells just as quickly as they are pumped in. So it is of great interest to find compounds that manage to ‘trick’ this line of defence,” he said.
But Professor Broden warned that it will be a long time before the compound is developed into useable drugs.
“This is the first stage of a lengthy process, so it will take some time before we can determine which of the plant compounds can be used in further drug development,” he said.
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