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Compound found in chocolate, red wine said to slow Alzheimer's disease

By Marilyn Malara
Resveratrol found in foods such as red grapes, chocolate and peanuts has been found to slow the chemical process of worsening Alzheimer's disease. Photo by themorningglory/shutterstock
Resveratrol found in foods such as red grapes, chocolate and peanuts has been found to slow the chemical process of worsening Alzheimer's disease. Photo by themorningglory/shutterstock

WASHINGTON, Sept. 12 (UPI) -- In an early study covering the effectiveness of resveratrol in Alzheimer's patients, researchers report the compound stabilizes an important biomarker of the disease.

Published in the journal Neurology, the Phase 2, placebo-controlled, double-blind study incorporated 119 patients with mild or moderate Alzheimer's disease over a one-year span. Half of the participants were given placebos while the other half received resveratrol.

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Resveratrol is naturally found in foods including red grapes, chocolate, peanuts and red wine. Researchers used a pure synthetic form of the compound for this particular study, providing participants with a dosage regimen equal to 1,000 bottles of red wine daily.

The results showed patients given sugar pills over the year experienced a decline in their amyloid-beta40 (Abeta40) levels found in blood and spinal fluid. Those given resveratrol experienced little or no change in their Abeta40 levels.

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Lead researcher Dr. R. Scott Turner from Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., says a decrease in Abeta40 is expected as dementia worsens in Alzheimer's patients. "Still, we can't conclude from this study that the effects of resveratrol treatment are beneficial," he said. "it does appear that resveratrol was able to penetrate the blood-brain barrier, which is an important observation."

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Turner says resveratrol acts differently than other Alzheimer's drugs, which target amyloid proteins directly. Instead, the compound finds its way to the protiens in an indirect manner. The findings do not specifically prove the treatment betters the lives of those with Alzheimer's. "We need further studies to see if it really does have a benefit," Turner said.

The Phase 2 study did not gather enough evidence for researchers to recommend resveratrol for patients, but it did prompt a Phase 3 trial for more definitive results.

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