Researchers have made a discovery that could potentially transform treatment for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. They found the possibility of developing a treatment using coffee grounds that could prevent brain cell damage.

Neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease and spinal muscular atrophy are caused by the gradual loss of neurons or brain cells. These serious, life-threatening conditions can affect a person's daily activities, including balance, movement, talking, breathing and heart function. .

Studies have shown that several environmental factors such as exposure to pesticides and toxic chemicals can trigger neurodegenerative diseases.

Researchers from the University of Texas at El Paso evaluated whether carbon quantum dots (CACQDs) derived from spent coffee grounds - a material often discarded after use - could intervene in the onset and progress of neurodegenerative disorders if the disease is triggered by age, obesity and environmental factors.

"Caffeic-acid based carbon quantum dots have the potential to be transformative in the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders. This is because none of the current treatments resolve the diseases; they only help manage the symptoms. Our aim is to find a cure by addressing the atomic and molecular underpinnings that drive these conditions," lead researcher Jyotish Kumar said.

The team used an environmentally friendly extraction technique called "green chemistry" to derive CACQDs from used coffee grounds.

The results showed that CACQDs could remove or neutralize free radicals and amyloid proteins associated with neurodegenerative diseases. This effect was particularly notable in Parkinson's disease when the damage was induced by the pesticide paraquat.

Researchers noted that these positive effects were observed without any significant side effects. They hope the findings will help in developing future treatments based on CACQDs to prevent disease progression at a very early stage.

"It is critical to address these disorders before they reach the clinical stage. At that point, it is likely too late. Any current treatments that can address advanced symptoms of neurodegenerative disease are simply beyond the means of most people. Our aim is to come up with a solution that can prevent most cases of these conditions at a cost that is manageable for as many patients as possible," corresponding author Professor Mahesh Narayan said.