Carnosine capsules could have many uses
AN OVER-the-counter supplement is being trialled as a potentially cheap and safe way of treating a wide range of the most common age and lifestyle-related diseases.
Chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia, and cancer could be treated using carnosine, naturally occurs in the muscles, heart and brain of humans and animals, but not in large enough quantities for people to get enough through their diet. It is sold in capsules marketed to improve exercise capacity and for suggested anti-ageing properties.
Instead of using medication to improve a single issue, Monash University researchers are taking a different tack to disease prevention, testing whether carnosine can target the actual mechanisms that drive several chronic diseases.
More than 2000 studies in animals and cells have shown its beneficial effects. Now Victorians will be part of some of the first human clinical trials.
In 84 overweight and obese adults, and 50 people with type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes, carnosine’s effects will be measured on everything from body fat, blood pressure, blood glucose, sleep, depression and cognition.
Associate Professor Barbora de Courten said the two trials were testing the hypothesis that carnosine could improve disease markers.
“Unlike a drug that usually works on one pathway and improves only one risk factor, carnosine actually targets the mechanisms underlying many chronic diseases. That’s the fascinating thing about carnosine,” she said.
“It’s cheap, water soluble and easy to mix into foods.
“If it works, it will be easy to implement at the population level.
“If it works well in several different diseases you could mix the powder into muesli bars or other food products.”