Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting more than 5.3 million Americans. According to the National Institute of Aging, a new case of Alzheimer’s is diagnosed in the United States approximately every 70 seconds. There is no known cure for this debilitating disease. However, a national, phase-II clinical trial is being conducted to study a new way of treating Alzheimer’s disease. More than two dozen institutions nationwide will participate in the study and recruit volunteers in the months to come. The lead investigator of the study is R. Scott Turner, M.D., Ph.D., director of Georgetown University Medical Center’s Memory Disorders Program.
Resveratrol, a compound commonly found in red grapes, red wine, chocolate, tomatoes and peanuts, may play a role in preventing diabetes, fighting some forms of cancer, improving cardiovascular health and preventing the memory loss and dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease. Although pre-clinical and pilot clinical research studies in the use of resveratrol are promising, no large-scale study on its effects on humans has ever been conducted. Modest daily consumption of red wine has been shown to have several health benefits, although the mechanisms of this action in the human body are still not fully known.
The risks of Alzheimer’s disease, heart or cardiovascular disease and diabetes all increase with age. Studies indicate that resveratrol may slow the molecular process of aging, helping slow or prevent the development of these diseases.
“Most resveratrol studies showing any health benefits have been conducted in animal models, such as mice, and with doses that far exceed intake from sipping wine or nibbling on chocolate,” says Dr. Turner. “With this clinical trial, we’ll find out if daily doses of pure resveratrol can delay or alter memory deterioration and daily functioning in people with mild to moderate dementia due to Alzheimer’s.”
The study on the effects of resveratrol will be conducted at 26 academic institutions affiliated with the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study in locations across the U.S. Half of the participants will receive a placebo to allow researchers to objectively study the benefits of resveratrol. Neither the patients nor the clinical staff will know if the individual is receiving a placebo or the resveratrol until the end of the study.
Each individual patient will be in the study for twelve-months and will require a spouse, friend or caregiver to visit the Georgetown University Medical Center ten times over the course of that year.
The study is sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study, made possible by a grant through the National Institute of Aging.