Alzheimer's patients gradually lose connections in the brain , leading to the loss of memory and other mental abilities . A supplement mixture developed at MIT appears to stimulate new connections to grow. Researchers say in a European study, 40% of patients who received the supplement improved in a test of their verbal memory, compared to 24% who received a placebo drink.
The nutrient cocktail contains a mixture of three naturally occurring dietary compounds: choline, uridine and the omega-3 fatty acid DHA. Choline can be found in meats, nuts and eggs, and omega-3 fatty acids are found in a variety of sources, including fish, eggs, flaxseed and meat from grass-fed animals. Uridine is produced by the liver and kidney, and is present in some foods as a component of RNA.
The inventor of the drink, Richard Wurtman, a professor emeritus of brain and cognitive sciences at MIT, says these nutrients are precursors to the lipid molecules that, along with specific proteins, make up brain-cell membranes, which form synapses. To be effective, all three precursors must be administered together.
Results of the clinical trial, conducted in Europe, appear in the July 10 online edition of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease
The drink, Souvenaid, made by the company that produces Dannon yogurt, is expected to be sold first in Europe.