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National Institute of Health funds first-ever study to determine how tocotrienol works to protect neuronal cells

Study focuses on vitamin E's role in reducing effects of neuro-degenerative diseases

The National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the National Institute of Health (NIH) has just decided to award in excess of a million dollars to investigate how a member of the vitamin E family - alpha-tocotrienol - helps protect against inducible neuronal cell death.

This is the first-ever NIH-funded study on alpha-tocotrienol, the palm-derived form of vitamin E. The award is based on preliminary data generated using Tocomin® Full Spectrum Tocotrienol Complex. Previous research on Tocomin® has determined that tocotrienols crosses the blood-brain barrier, and are potent protectors of neuron cells that may be killed due to stroke and other neurodegenerative diseases.

The research is led by Professor Chandan K. Sen, the director of the Laboratory of Molecular Medicine at The Ohio State University Medical Center. Earlier studies by Sen found that minute amounts of palm-derived alpha-tocotrienol, from Tocomin®, blocked glutamate-induced nerve cell death. Glutamate toxicity is a major contributor to pathological cell death within the nervous system.

The NIH-funded study will look at the mechanism by which alpha-tocotrienol exerts its neuroprotective action. It will lay the foundation for a safe and efficient approach to preventing cell death and securing normal neural function under challenging conditions.

Vitamin E is a generic term for both tocopherol and tocotrienol derivatives. There are significant differences in their chemical structures which make them act very differently in humans. Of the two, tocopherol is the most commonly used. Yet, the antioxidant powers of tocotrienol have been proven to be much stronger than tocopherol.

"Eighty years after the discovery of vitamin E in 1922, it is long overdue to closely examine all naturally occurring forms of vitamin E side by side," said Sen, who noted that the general perception is that tocopherols are the only vitamin E molecules in nature. "Attention to the naturally occurring tocotrienols, especially to their neuroprotective properties, could well provide us with a powerful tool to combat neurodegeneration by safe dietary means."

Media note: For further information, please contact Mike Danielson at Media Relations, Inc., 800-999-4859 ext. 214.

Biography - Dr. Chandan Sen, PhD

Dr. Sen is the Vice Chairman of Surgery, Director of the Laboratory of Molecular Medicine, Director of the DNA Microarray & Genetics facility of the Davis Heart & Lung Research Institute, and Director of Research, Center for Minimally Invasive Surgery at The Ohio State University Medical Center. His works pioneer a major breakthrough in vitamin E research. Dr. Sen has published over 100 research articles and over 10 scientific books. He is the editor in chief of the international journal Antioxidants & Redox Signaling ( In addition, Dr. Sen is a peer reviewer of over 25 international journals and currently serves as the editorial board member of the Journal of Applied Physiology, DNA & Cell Biology and Current Topics in Nutraceutical Research. He is a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine as well as of the American College of Nutrition.

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