Hope sprouting for Alzheimer’s

Researchers are working on a super-charged, synthetic version of retinoic acid they believe will help fight neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Researchers believe a compound in Brussels sprouts is so promising as a weapon against Alzheimer’s that they’re trying to create a cranked-up synthetic version.

Sprouts, carrots, sweet potatoes and spinach are packed with vitamin A, which our bodies turn into retinoic acid. Retinoic acid interacts with specific brain receptors and plays a role in the development in our central nervous system. Scientists believe the acid may affect neural disorders in the brain, both degenerative and psychiatric, according to a release from the University of Aberdeen, in the U.K. Researchers there have launched a $307,000 study, funded by the government’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Researchers have designed synthetic versions of retinoic acid that interact with the body’s natural receptors in the brain in an even more powerful way than the natural acid.

"We are basically trying to create a massively amplified version of what vitamin A already does for the body,” Aberdeen professor Peter McCaffery, PhD, who is leading the project said in the release, published on medicalxpress.com. “By exploiting the natural consequences of retinoic acid by creating a synthetic alternative, we hope to be able to create a new therapeutic which could be used to help people with Alzheimer's disease.”

One out of nine Americans over the age of 65 has Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Today, 5.3 million Americans live with the disease, a figure that’s expected to skyrocket when the first wave of Baby Boomers hit age 85.

Recent research also finds omega-3 fatty acids promising in the fight against the disease.

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