MIT supplement boosts memory in Alzheimer’s patients13 July 2012
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers say that they have developed a nutritional supplement that can increase the memory function of early stage Alzheimer’s patients.
The team said that the supplement, named as Souvenaid, stimulates the growth of new synapses and restores the connection between nerve cells.
Souvenaid contains a mixture of three naturally occurring compounds – choline, uridine and the omega-3 fatty acid DHA. Biochemically, the nutrients are precursors to the lip molecules that, along with specific proteins, make up brain-cell membranes, which form synapses.
“You want to improve the numbers of synapses, not by slowing their degradation — though of course you’d love to do that too — but rather by increasing the formation of the synapses,” said Richard Wurtman, a professor emeritus of brain and cognitive sciences at MIT.
MIT first reported the positive impact of Souvenaid on early stage Alzheimer’s patients in 2008 when a study showed that 40% of patients who consumed the milkshake improved their performance in verbal memory tests. 24% improved their performance over the three month study but Souvenaid did not trigger improvement in patients with more advanced Alzheimer’s.
A new, larger research project over six months and in several European countries featured more comprehensive memory tests using a neuropsychological test battery and EEG’s. Again, the researchers noted a positive impact in the cognitive performance and verbal memory of the patients who had consumed the milkshake.
Nutricia, the firm that is testing and marketing Souvenaid, has not confirmed its commercial plans to commercialise the milkshake though it is expected to be available in Europe first. Nutricia is the specialised health care division of European food giant Danone.
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