FRIDAY, Jan. 8, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- A combination of three nutrients might help improve memory in Alzheimer's patients by stimulating the growth of new brain connections (synapses), a new study shows.
Uridine, choline and the omega-3 fatty acid DHA (all found in breast milk) are precursors to the fatty molecules that make up brain cell membranes, which form synapses.
"If you can increase the number of synapses by enhancing their production, you might to some extent avoid that loss of cognitive ability" that occurs in Alzheimer's patients, Richard Wurtman, a professor of brain and cognitive sciences at MIT, said in a news release. He conducted the basic research that led to this investigational treatment.
In a clinical trial, 225 Alzheimer's patients were given a cocktail of the three nutrients, along with B vitamins, phosopholipids and antioxidants. Patients with mild Alzheimer's showed improvements in verbal memory.
The study was published Jan. 8 in the journal Alzheimer's and Dementia.
Three additional clinical trials are underway in the United States and Europe. Results are expected within a few years.
The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about Alzheimer's disease.