Doctors are already good at diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease in a patient with obvious symptoms, which include memory loss, vision problems and confusion. But the cutting-edge research is looking for the brain mechanisms of the condition at its earliest stages, maximizing the potential for intervention.
Two studies published this week that may help pave the way for better treatments for people with Alzheimer’s, which affects as many as 5.3 million Americans, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. One is a drink that you may one day be able to pick up at the pharmacy; the other is a detection method.
Drink to your health?
One of the features of a brain with Alzheimer’s disease is the loss of synapses, which are junctions between two neurons or between a neuron and a muscle. Research suggests some connection between low numbers of synapses in a person’s brain and Alzheimer’s symptoms such as memory impairment and language deterioration.
Scientists have developed a drink called Souvenaid that is a “medical food,” meaning it’s taken under the guidance of a physician to manage a specific condition. The drink has three components — uridine, choline, and the omega-3 fatty acid DHA — that, working together, help restore synapses, said Dr. Richard Wurtman, professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and co-author of the study. Uridine is a molecule used in the genetic coding for RNA, choline is in the vitamin B family, and DHA is found in certain fish and fish oils.
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