News Brief by Meg Thode
Researchers at Saarland University in western Germany released findings last week as part of the LipiDiDiet Project—a broad, EU-sponsored examination of nutritional lipids’ effects on alzheimer’s patients. This particular study provided a medical nutrition formula, Fortasyn Connect, to individuals with prodromal (predementia) Alzheimer’s and compared their performance on cognitive function tests against a control group offered an “iso-caloric drink.” The primary assessment in the study was cognitive function as measured by tests monitoring recall, recognition, and information processing. The secondary outcomes monitored included retention of cognitive ability as measured by dementia rating sums. Although the nutritional intervention was not enough to reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s, it was able to conserve episodic memory and brain mass.
This is the first study to show that such a formula has potential as an effective intervention for prodromal Alzheimer’s patients. Project coordinator Tobias Hartmann believes that it was the combination of nutrients that made this formula successful: “We have known for a while that diet can reduce the risk of developing dementia… [however] single nutrients simply aren't powerful enough to fight a disease like Alzheimer's alone. Today's clinical trial results have shown that the key is combining certain nutrients, in order to increase their effects.”
Although there have been great advances in diagnosis of prodromal Alzheimer’s, a disease which affects 47 million people, currently there is no treatment, pharmacological or otherwise. Hartmann offers that the findings of this study are “exciting because [they show] that in the absence of effective drug options, we really have found something that can help slow down some of the most distressing symptoms in prodromal AD.”
Saarland University. "Nutritional drink can help to conserve memory in case of prodromal Alzheimer's disease: Medical food in the form of a daily nutritional drink can help to conserve memory, the ability to think and perform everyday tasks, as well as reduce brain shrinkage in people with prodromal Alzheimer's disease (AD)1." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 March 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160310111933.htm>.