Tomato good for Alzheimers.
Tomatoes could be used as a vaccine against Alzheimer’s, scientists claim.
They have genetically modified the fruit to create an edible vaccine that fires up the immune system to tackle the disease.
It works by attacking the toxic beta-amyloid protein that destroys vital connections between brain cells, causing Alzheimer’s.
They say reducing the build up of the protein could prevent or delay the onset of the devastating disease, which affects 400,000 Britons.
Although around 500 new cases are diagnosed every day and a global epidemic is predicted by 2050, currently drugs only slow the disease’s progression rather than curing it outright.
However, they do not work for everyone and there is a desperate need for new treatments.
To create the vaccine, the scientists combined the gene behind the betaamyloid protein with the tomato’s genetic code.
They then fed mice the designer tomatoes once a week for three weeks.
Blood samples taken from the mice revealed the tomatoes triggered their immune systems to release disease-fighting antibodies, although the levels of plaques in the brain were not reduced.
The researchers from the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology in Seoul are now trying to increase the potency of the vaccine in order to ‘ supercharge’ the immune response.
They said the tomato was a good way of getting a vaccine into the body because it was enjoyable to eat and could be eaten raw.
The vaccine could be destroyed if the tomatoes were cooked, they added.
Professor Clive Ballard, of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: ‘ Developing a vaccine is currently the subject of a lot of exciting research.
‘This study suggests that it might be possible to derive vaccines from plants.’
The Health Benefits
- Tomatoes are credited with cutting cholesterol, preventing some cancers and protecting against sunburn
- Containing 40 per cent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C, they keep the skin looking youthful by boosting collagen production
- Men who consume at least ten servings of tomatoes a week cut their risk of developing prostate cancer by 45 per cent
- Lycopene – the fruit’s red pigment –is a natural antioxidant and helps prevent lung and breast cancers
- Regularly eating tomatoes – a cousin of the tobacco plant – can also guard against colon and rectal cancer