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U.S. Study Pits an Omega-3 Against Alzheimer's

18-month trial will test docosahexaenoic acid's ability to slow disease

FRIDAY, June 8, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. researchers have launched a study to examine whether an omega-3 fatty acid called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) can help slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease.

The 18-month clinical trial will be conducted at 52 sites across the United States and will seek to enroll 400 people, age 50 and older, with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease. The trial is supported by the National Institute on Aging (NIA).

"Evidence to date in various research studies that have examined the effect of omega-3 fatty acids on Alzheimer's disease merits further evaluation in a rigorous clinical trial. Our hope is that we may find out that DHA plays a role in slowing the progression of this destructive disease," Dr. Raj Shah, medical director of the Alzheimer's Disease Center at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, said in a prepared statement.

The Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center is one of the study sites.

Recent U.S. and European studies have reported that people with the highest blood levels of DHA were about half as likely to develop dementia as people with lower DHA levels.

During this new clinical trial, about 60 percent of the participants will receive either two grams of DHA per day, while 40 percent will be given an inactive placebo. Cognitive tests will be used to monitor patients' Alzheimer's disease progression during the study.

More information

For more information about the study, contact the NIA's Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral Center at 1-800-438-4380, or visit the referral center's Web site.

SOURCE: Rush University Medical Center, news release, May 2007
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