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Researchers in Sweden have made a significant breakthrough in the battle against Alzheimer’s disease. Their findings reveal that graphene oxide nanoflakes have the potential to facilitate the recovery of yeast cells afflicted by amyloid peptides, which are widely considered a critical factor in Alzheimer’s disease.

Graphene used to decrease amyloid peptides accumulation

Alzheimer’s is a formidable ailment, characterized by a progressive deterioration of brain function leading to dementia and, ultimately, fatality. An estimated 40 million individuals across the globe are currently confronting this condition or its associated dementia variants. The economic burden it imposes on the world is immense, accounting for approximately one percent of the global gross domestic product.

Usually AD is primarily characterized by the accumulation of malconfigured amyloid-beta peptides, also known as Aβ peptides, in the brain. This buildup harms neurons and impairs cognitive function, and there is currently no effective medical solution to address it.

Researchers from Chalmers University of Technology have demonstrated that when yeast cells, carrying these peptides as a load, are exposed to graphene oxide, there is a noticeable decrease in the accumulation of the peptides.

Lead study author Xin Chen said that the impact of graphene oxide has been recently demonstrated by other investigators, albeit not within yeast cells. Chen said that Graphene oxide exerts an influence on cellular metabolism, bolstering their resilience against misfolded proteins and oxidative stress, a revelation hitherto unreported.

Saccharomyces cerevisiae used to stimulate neurons

In this study, researchers used baker’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) as a model to simulate human neurons affected by Alzheimer’s disease due to the yeast’s similarity to human cells in terms of protein regulation. They employed yeast cells loaded with amyloid-beta42, a key peptide associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

In the model, yeast cells mimic neurons impacted by amyloid-beta42 accumulation. These cells age quickly, exhibit endoplasmic reticulum stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, and increased harmful reactive oxygen radicals production.

Graphene oxide nanoflakes are tiny two-dimensional carbon structures known for their high conductivity and biocompatibility. Researchers worldwide are exploring their applications in areas such as cancer treatment and drug delivery.