Washington – A recent study published on Friday in the journal Neurology suggests that resveratrol, a chemical found in grapes, red wine, and dark chocolate, could delay the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Resveratrol is a compound linked to the treatment of a range of age-related disorders, including cancer, diabetes and neurological problems. Until now trials on humans have been minimal, with most researches conducted on animals, but so far most of the data obtained has been positive.

The study was conducted by a people team led by Scott Turner at Georgetown University Medical Centre in Washington DC, by giving 119 people a gram of synthesized resveratrol twice a day in pills during an entire year or to some people, a placebo.

Credit: The Huffington Post

Results showed that those in the placebo group demonstrated typical signs of Alzheimer’s progressing, including a decline in the level of amyloid beta protein. People taking resveratrol showed a little or no change in the amyloid beta levels in their blood.

 “The study is encouraging enough that we should certainly go ahead and do a clinical trial because we showed that it is safe and does have significant effects on Alzheimer’s biomarkers,” said Dr. R. Scott Turner, professor of neurology at Georgetown University Medical Center and lead investigator of the study.

The main goal was to find out whether high doses of resveratrol could be safe. The only small concern they found was that patients taking resveratrol lost about two pounds during the one-year study, and weight loss is already a problem with Alzheimer’s, Turner said. In comparison, the control group gained about 1 pound.

Should we drink more wine?

“You can’t possibly consume enough resveratrol from food sources to reach the doses that were used in the study,” says James Hendrix, a scientist with the US charity Alzheimer’s Association. One would have to drink 1000 bottles of red wine a day to even come close.

Natural supplements are not an option either as plants produce the resveratrol compound in response to stress and so its levels can vary tremendously. To guarantee the right amount of dose is with a synthesised product. Nature is unable to design resveratrol to treat Alzheimer’s disease and chemists should be able to tweak the structure to make the chemical reach the brain.

Source: New Scientist