April 23/St. John's, Newfoundland/Memorial University -- A team of researchers from the Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada, believes blueberries may help in the treatment of Parkinson's disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.

In drawing this conclusion, the researchers examined the alpha-synuclein, a nuclear and synaptic protein located in the brain, which has proven key in the development of Parkinson's. For the study, researchers injected this gene into fruit flies, causing them to suffer a number of problems, such as retina degeneration and reduction of their life span.

The researchers then evaluated if the blueberry extract could enhance the effects of alpha-synuclein. The result revealed the flies fed blueberry extract lived up to 15% longer than those who followed a standard diet. Their eye problems likewise improved, leading to the conclusion that blueberries are beneficial in tackling the symptoms of the disease in fruit flies.

According to Brian Staveley, co-author of the study, "The increase in life expectancy seen in fruit flies is the equivalent of an extended life span of 8 years in humans."