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Published on: March 22, 2015
by Andrew Gregory for Mirror:
Scientists have discovered a new way of making medicine from olives which could cut the risk of Alzheimer’s and even cure the disease.
A second study has revealed that a new Alzheimer’s drug can slow a patient’s cognitive decline.
The use of olive extracts in pills is designed to take advantage of its superfood qualities, a key ingredient in the Mediterranean diet which has been shown to boost heart health.
German scientists behind the study believe those who eat an olive-rich diet, as well as keeping phyiscally and mentally active, are less likely to suffer dementia.
Dr Joachim Tretzel, managing director of N-Zyme BioTec GmbH, which is working alongside academics to develop the pills, said: “We want to test whether olive polyphenols can even help to cure the disease.”
The study is being led by Prof Heribert Warzecha of the Department of Biology at the University of Darmstadt.
She said: “Our new techniques make it easier to extract substances from olive leaves and significantly improve low yields.
“When it comes to production, this means we aren’t dependent on the seasonal harvesting of olives in growing areas.”
Experts at the University of Frankfurt are to test the ‘biotechnologically produced’ olive products on cells to test the potential effect on Alzheimer’s.
Food chemist Dr Gunter Eckert added: “We focus on changes to the power houses of nerve cells, mitochondria, which change early on in Alzheimer’s disease.”
Their initial findings will be tested on mice, and then subsequently on humans.
Dr Eckert added: “We are testing the hypothesis that certain polyphenols from olives slow down disease processes in the brain, improve mitochondrial dysfunction and, as a result, provide evidence to suggest they protect against Alzheimer’s disease.”
Meanwhile, the positive results of an early trial of new Alzheimer’s drug aducanumab were welcomed by experts.
Dr Eric Karran, Director of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “These are very promising early results, which not only demonstrate the safety of this treatment but also suggest it may hold benefits in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
“Further data from this trial is yet to be reported, and it will be important to see this data as well as results from much larger trials before we can understand how effective this treatment may be.
“Alzheimer’s disease affects half a million people in the UK today, causing untold devastation, yet there are currently no treatments capable of stopping the disease in its tracks. While today’s results are promising, we must continue to invest in research and cast our net wide in the search for new ways to fight the disease.”
Dr James Pickett, head of research at the Alzheimer’s Society, added: “It’s great to have positive news about a potential new treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. There is a huge need for new drugs given there are so few medicines currently available.”
But he cautioned: “This was a small, early-stage trial and a larger trial is needed to confirm whether this drug will help people with the disease.”
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