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Worldwide, researchers are working on ways to delay the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease, and ameliorate its terrible effect on patients and their families.
A research team at UMass Lowell has reported positive gains in human clinical trials using a particular neuroprotective formulation: a combination of vitamins and nutriceuticals, known across the campus as the SmartPill, which will be marketed as “MemoryXL.”
Clinical trials were conducted with healthy, normal adults without dementia; on adults with early stage Alzheimer’s, and adults in the late stages of the disease.
“We have delayed the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by two years so far,” says Prof. Thomas Shea of the Biological Sciences Department, who led the research team. “People with early stage Alzheimer’s showed actual improvement on four standard cognitive tests. Normal adults show 10 to 20 percent boost in memory and recall. People with late-stage Alzheimer’s disease held ground for six months, with no adverse effects.”
The positive results match the performance of identical tests with the most common drugs currently used to treat Alzheimer’s. MemroyXL has been licensed by a Boston-based company, according to Shea, and the product will be available within several months. FDA approval is not required, nor is a prescription necessary.
Profs. Robert Nicolosi and Eugene Rogers, both of the Clinical Laboratory and Nutritional Sciences Department, contributed to the early stage development of this product. Nicolosi has conducted extensive research on nutritional supplements in mammals. Rogers investigated the role of folate in metabolic processes affecting neurons. Early research efforts were supported by institutional funding and by the Alzheimer’s Association, a national health organization in Alzheimer care, support and research.
The clinical trials were coordinated by Nursing Asst. Prof. Ruth Remington, Elizabeth Goodrow Kotyla, research associate with the Center for Health and Disease Research, BioMedical/BioTechnological doctoral candidate Amy Chan-Daniels, and by Dr. James Paskavitz, MD, in association with the UMass Medical Center Dementia Clinic
The Alzheimer’s Association has awarded Shea a $240,000, three-year grant for further study to investigate whether the formulation can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s.
“We know it can delay progression and that it boosts performance in people who do not have Alzheimer’s,” says Shea. “We’ll investigate delay of onset by studying individuals with ‘mild cognitive impairment,’ a condition of disordered thought and memory that often leads to Alzheimer’s disease within a year or two.”
The completed study results are in press in the American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias. Shea presented these findings at this year’s International Congress on Alzheimer’s disease in Chicago. Shea is routinely a featured speaker at state and national meetings of the Alzheimer’s Association.