Tuesday, 17th July 2018
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Local scientists make Alzheimer's breakthrough

Ground-breaking new research by a Waterford team has identified a unique combination of nutrients to slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease (AD).

The 18-month study, published in the June edition of the respected Journal of Alzheimer's Disease* (JAD), examined the effect of nutritional compounds - found in common foods such as trout, broccoli and peppers - on people with the condition and reached a 'statistically significant' finding. Pioneered by respected Cambridge University academic Dr Alan Howard, who invented the innovative Cambridge Diet, the trial studied people diagnosed with AD from a mild to advanced stage. Conducted by experts at the Nutrition Research Centre Ireland based in the School of Health Science in Waterford Institute of Technology in collaboration with University Hospital Waterford (UHW), it initially set out to examine the biochemical response of AD patients to two different combinations of nutritional supplements. The first formula contained the macular carotenoids Lutein, Meso-Zeaxanthin and Zeaxanthin, and the second combined the macular carotenoids plus a specifically designed fish oil.

However, the researchers unexpectedly made a crucial discovery. They identified that patients receiving the formula containing fish oil maintained cognitive abilities and quality of life – far beyond those taking macular carotenoids alone. Based on carer reports, trial participants were overwhelmingly identified to have positive outcomes, including functional benefits in memory, sight and mood. Dr Howard, who is founder and Chair of the Howard Foundation, said: "This represents one of the most important medical advancements of the century. Alzheimer's disease is the largest public health crisis we face and drug companies have so far fallen at every hurdle in finding a solution. This study gives us that breakthrough, in a unique natural compound of nutrients."

Professor John Nolan, founder of the NRCI, who led the study, explains: "We know from several large population-based studies that nutrition is a key factor in the development of Alzheimer's, but attempts to identify an exact combination of nutrients that can positively impact on brain health have failed - until now. "Given our growing and ageing population and, importantly, that we live in a time where the nutritional value of foods continues to decline, I believe this is a valuable discovery that will challenge perceptions worldwide about the role of nutrition on brain function."

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