Alzheimer’s is a progressive degenerative disease that impairs a person's cognitive functions in several ways. It can have a dramatically negative effect on someone’s abilities to perform basic tasks, everyday problem solving and in most cases, lead to severe memory loss in the patient.
The illness has also been attributed to personality and behavioral changes in Alzheimer’s sufferers causing depression, social withdrawal, mood swings, delusions and aggressiveness.
There is currently no cure available, only medications that can potentially reduce the effects and symptoms of the disease. Many claim these drugs offer little solace for the patient or family involved due to the aggressive nature of the condition.
Professor Emeritus Richard Wurtman, of the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has published over 1000 papers on a diverse range of topics such as neuronal membrane synthesis, nutrition and the brain, neurodegeneration, and treatment discovery for neurological disease.
His latest research paper entitled, ‘Synapse formation in the brain can be enhanced by co-administering three specific nutrients’ outlines a possible theory as to why Alzheimer’s has such devastating effects on the human brain, as well as a possible treatment to the halt effects, and even restore memory.
Wurtman - “The memory impairments of early Alzheimer's disease [AD] are thought to result from a deficiency in synapses within the hippocampus and related brain regions.”
The brain consists of trillions of synapses connections that allow electronic signals to be passed through a network of neural channels.
This is essentially how data and information is processed in order for people to understand the world around them, create memories and make critical decisions.
Wurtman believes that Alzheimer's is the result of a decrease in the production of the synaptic membrane needed to form new synapses.
To counteract this, he proposes, “The syntheses of new dendritic spines and synapses can, however, be increased by concurrently raising brain levels of three circulating nutrients – uridine, omega-3 fatty acidsdocosahexaenoic acid (DHA) or eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and choline.”
He goes on to say, “This could provide an additional strategy for restoring synapses and thereby memory.”
Professor Wurtman’s research has lead to the development of a nutrient rich supplement called, Souvenaid.
“It feels like science-fiction, where you can take a drink of Souvenaid and you get more synapses … for improved cognitive function,” Wurtman says. “But it works.”
One of several clinical trials carried out using Souvenaid resulted in 40% of patients demonstrating a vast increase in verbal memory compared to the control group who took a placebo. This group actually showed signs of the disease worsening.
Although the new drug is still in need of further research & development, it could be a huge breakthrough in this field.
At present over 9 million people are suffer from Alzheimer's in the UK & Europe, along with over 5 million in the United States.