In a major breakthrough, scientists have discovered an inexpensive new supplement that drastically reduces the progression of Alzheimer's disease. The new, yet simple, drug appears set to deliver affordable healthcare for patients of Alzheimer's and could potentially see years of the disease’s effects wiped away from the body.
The supplement discovered, resveratrol, occurs naturally in plants such as red grapes and raspberries along with red wine and dark chocolate.
In the study, scientists took a sample of 119 patients suffering from mid-level to high level Alzheimer's. The participants were each given 1g of pure resveratrol in a controlled dosage of twice a day for a period of 12 months. A control group received a placebo.
In all Alzheimer's cases, as the disease progresses, the level of a protein called Abeta40 gradually decreases in the blood. For the participants taking regular doses of resveratrol, there was no alteration in the level of Abeta40, suggesting that the disease had stabilized. The group on the supplement was even shown to have improved in their dressing, cooking and use of public modes of transport.
For the control group taking the placebo, levels of Abeta40 continued to decline with the disease’s progression. They ultimately recorded no improvement in overall cognitive abilities.
According to Dr. Scott Turner, director of the memory disorders program at Georgetown University Medical Center, “Number one, we found that resveratrol was safe in older people with Alzheimer’s disease and number two, it looked like it may have had a beneficial effect on biomarkers and disease progression.”
The researchers reported that they chose resveratrol because it activated proteins called sirtuins, which were incidentally also turned on by calorie restriction. Scientists have previously shown that age-related diseases such as dementia can actually be delayed or even prevented altogether by the cutting of calories to below two thirds the recommended level.
Though the study proved successful, researchers said they could not approve the supplement as the trial was too small to amount to a recommendation.
Director of research at the Alzheimer's Society, Dr Doug Brown, said, “While this is an interesting study, it did not investigate whether resveratrol has any effect on memory or improving other symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
“Before we can say this has potential as a treatment option we need to see larger and longer trials in people that specifically look at whether it can improve the lives of those with the condition.”
Naturally occurring supplements such as resveratrol may be the key to ending age related diseases such as Alzheimer's. Through more study, researchers look set to continually improve medical care for patients and while at the same time making it affordable for a majority of price sensitive Americans.