Coffee grounds could hold key to creating new therapies for neurodegenerative diseases

While research is still in the early stages, scientists from The University of Texas at El Paso envision that caffeic-acid based Carbon Quantum Dots – which can be easily obtained from coffee grounds –  could be ‘transformative’ in treating increasingly common neurodegenerative disorders.  

They hope the substance could ultimately be used to create medication that could prevent the vast majority of neurodegenerative disorders that are caused by factors other than genetics.

Caffeic-acid based Carbon Quantum Dots

A team led by Jyotish Kumar, a doctoral student in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and overseen by Mahesh Narayan, Ph.D., a professor and Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry in the same department, found that caffeic-acid based Carbon Quantum Dots (CACQDs) derived from spent coffee grounds can provide protection from neurodegenerative diseases if the condition is triggered by certain factors (such as obesity, age and exposure to pesticides and other toxic chemicals).

The discovery is particularly exciting because current treatments are often focused on managing symptoms rather than addressing the disease itself.

“Caffeic-acid based Carbon Quantum Dots have the potential to be transformative in the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders,” said Kumar.

“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.”

Neurodegenerative diseases involve the loss of neurons or brain cells. They inhibit the ability to perform basic functions such as movement and speech, as well as more complicated tasks including bladder and bowel functions, and cognitive abilities.