MONDAY, July 9 (HealthDay News) -- A daily drink combining several nutrients appears to help people with early Alzheimer's disease improve their memory, a new study suggests.
As Alzheimer's progresses, patients lose their memory as synapses (connections between brain cells) deteriorate, according to background information included in the study. The new drink, called Souvenaid, may actually stimulate the growth of new synapses, said the drink's inventor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientist Dr. Richard Wurtman.
But more research is needed before the drink could be made available to the public. And, even then, consumers should exercise caution, said William Thies, vice president for medical and scientific affairs at the Alzheimer's Association.
Nutricia, a division of Dannon, sponsored the study. MIT has a patent on Souvenaid, and Nutricia has the exclusive license on the patent.
"Existing data now suggests that it may be possible to receive something that will sustain cognition in people with Alzheimer's disease with a limited concern about side effects," Wurtman said.
Previous experiments in animals showed that giving them the three compounds included in the drink increased the production of synapses improving brain function, he said.
For the new study, nearly 260 early Alzheimer's patients in Europe drank either Souvenaid or a placebo for six months.
During the first three months of the study, patients in both groups showed improved memory. After that, however, patients taking the placebo had a decline in memory. In contrast, patients taking Souvenaid continued to show improved memory on tests used to assess Alzheimer's patients.
Whether Souvenaid will slow the progression of Alzheimer's isn't known. There is, however, a longer trial going on that might answer that question, Wurtman said. "I don't think it has any effect on the fun
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