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UHT milk used to study age-related diseases

A new study on UHT milk jointly undertaken by ANU, CSIRO, University of Wollongong and international researchers is helping scientists to better understand Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and type 2 diabetes – opening the door to improved treatments for these age-related diseases.

The research examined how milk proteins changed structurally when heated briefly to around 140 degrees to produce UHT milk, causing the gelling phenomenon with long-term storage. 

These proteins are the same type of protein clusters found in plaque deposits in cases of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Fifty different diseases have been recognised as being associated with protein aggregation.

“Parkinson’s, dementia and type 2 diabetes are big problems for the ageing population in Australia and many other countries around the world,” said Professor John Carver from the ANU Research School of Chemistry.

“Any means we can understand these proteins, their structure and why they form amyloid fibrils has the potential for developing treatments.”

Aging relating diseases affect about 500 million people worldwide and is set to increase over the next 20 to 30 years. 

Population projections by the Australian Treasury forecasts the number of Australians aged 65 is increasing rapidly, from 2.5 million in 2002 to 6.2 million in 2042, or from 13 per cent of the population to 25 per cent.

The collaborative research was published in the published in the journal Small.  The research does not suggest UHT milk can cause these age-related diseases.

Meredith Horne