An Aspirin hoarding Reuters

A new study has discovered that salicylic acid, an ingredient used in aspirin, prevents cell death associated with neurodegenerative diseases. The findings, published in PLOS ONE on Nov. 25, conclude that this could be the key to curing Alzheimer's, Parkinson’s and Huntington's diseases.

The team found that salicylic acid binds to GAPDH, an enzyme that plays an important role in neurodegenerative diseases. The enzyme would move into the nucleus of the brain cells during oxidative stress to increase protein turnover, which leads to cell death. However, when the researchers investigated how salicylic acid affects GAPDH, the two elements attached, keeping GAPDH from entering into the nucleus.

"The enzyme GAPDH, long thought to function solely in glucose metabolism, is now known to participate in intra-cellular signaling," said Solomon Snyder, professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, as quoted by Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research. "The new study establishes that GAPDH is a target for salicylate drugs related to aspirin and hence may be relevant to the therapeutic actions of such drugs."

The researchers continue to study other benefits salicylic acid may have in helping treat other diseases, ScienceAlert notes. They will be focusing on a derivative of the acid that can be extracted from a variety of Chinese liquorice plant and a synthetic version that binds more tightly to GAPDH.

Contact the writer at or tell us what you think below.