New recipe for natural Alzheimer’s compound

Preparations of a Chinese moss have been sold as a dietary supplement to maintain memory and used to treat Alzheimer’s disease in China since the 1990s. But huperzine A, the moss’s active compound, can cost as much as $1,000 per milligram — a typical dose — because the moss is rare and the chemical has been difficult to isolate.

That obstacle has been swept aside by Assistant Professor of Chemistry Seth Herzon, Ph.D., and colleagues, who report the discovery of a new method to synthesize huperzine A in the August 25 issue of Chemical Science.

The process takes only eight steps and could lower the cost of the drug to fifty cents per milligram. Having a cheap and practical way to synthesize huperzine A paves the way for researchers who want to study its efficacy in treating Alzheimer’s.

“We believe huperzine A has the potential to treat a range of neurologic disorders more effectively than the current options available,” says Herzon. “And we now have a route to huperzine A that rivals nature’s pathway.”


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