Syed Haris Omar's doctoral research shows olives possess Alzheimer's-fighting qualities

Press/Media: Press / Media

Period18 Dec 2016

Media coverage


Media coverage

  • TitleOlives possess Alzheimer's-fighting qualities
    Degree of recognitionRegional
    Media name/outlet The Daily Advertiser
    Media typePrint
    DescriptionA treatment for Alzheimer’s may lie inside a Mediterranean treat, according to one of Charles Sturt University’s newest graduates.

    Dr Syed Haris Omar, who received his doctorate in biomedical science on Friday, found a compound in olives that prevented the disease in mice.
    “I’m very happy with the results, now I’m communicating with a number of journals to have them published,” Dr Omar said.”

    “Alzheimer’s is the second highest cause of death in Australia and there is no clinical treatment, there’s only symptomatic relief.”

    The debilitating illness, which affects memory, intellect, rationality, social skills and physical functioning in more than 1000 Wagga residents, is tipped to become the most expensive health condition in the next 50 years.

    However, rates of dementia-causing illnesses like Alzheimer’s were much lower in Mediterranean countries. Curious about the difference, Dr Omar started looking at whether olives might contribute to an ‘immunity’ to the disease.

    Test tube experiments showed the ‘phenolic’ compounds inhibited enzymes believed to be responsible for the formation of toxic ‘amyloid beta plaques’, one of the hallmarks of the Alzheimer's disease.
    “This is a protein that’s accumulating in the brain like dust from when we’re born,” Dr Omar said.

    “It causes a deposit of plaque on neurotransmitters that disrupt the signals in the brain, so information cannot pass through easily.

    “I incubated neurons with these compounds and after they were exposed to the toxin they were not affected.”

    The next stage of the research involved taking mutagenic mice – which would develop the plaques – and giving some of them an olive leaf extract with their food.

    After four months, the treated mice were able to pass memory tests but the others showed clear signs of forgetfulness and memory loss.

    Brain slices revealed the untreated mice had the telltale plaque build-ups while the treated mice did not.

    Dr Omar hoped to run clinical testing in the near future, but until then he encouraged people to embrace the bitter little berry.

    “If we can get in the daily habit of taking it in our diet, even an extract in the form of a capsule, then we can get rid of this disease,” Dr Omar said.
    Producer/AuthorStephen Mudd
    PersonsSyed Omar