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Study points to cocktail therapy for Alzheimer's
Date:7/8/2008

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- A dietary cocktail that includes a type of omega-3 fatty acid can improve memory and learning in gerbils, according to the latest study from MIT researchers that points to a possible beverage-based treatment for Alzheimer's and other brain diseases.

The combination of supplements, which contains three compounds normally found in the bloodstream, is now being tested in Alzheimer's patients. The cocktail has previously been shown to promote growth of new brain connections in rodents.

"It may be possible to use this treatment to partially restore brain function in people with diseases that decrease the number of brain neurons, including, for example, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's, strokes and brain injuries. Of course, such speculations have to be tested in double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials," said Richard Wurtman, Cecil H. Green Distinguished Professor of Neuropharmacology and senior author of a paper on the new work.

Such trials are now underway in Europe. A paper describing preliminary results has been submitted to the Alzheimer's Association International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease, to be held in Chicago July 26-31.

The new findings in gerbils appeared in the July 7 online edition of the Journal of FASEB (Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology).

The researchers found that normal gerbils treated with the mixturea combination of DHA (a type of omega-3 fatty acid), uridine and cholineperformed significantly better on learning and memory tests than untreated gerbils.

Wurtman developed the treatment as a new approach to tackling Alzheimer'srestoring the synapses, or connections between brain cells, that leads to cognitive decline in Alzheimer's patients.

Synapses, where information is passed between neurons, play a critical role in learning and memory. Wurtman's laboratory has previously shown that the cocktail treatment improves tho
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Contact: Teresa Herbert
therbert@mit.edu
617-258-5403
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

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