Souvenaid and Alzheimer’s Disease

Souvenaid, in its second clinical trial, has been proven to help the memory of people who suffer from mild Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Results of the trial were given at the 4th International Conference on Clinical Trials in Alzheimer’s Disease (CTAD) by Philip Scheltens, MD, PhD in San Diego in early November. Scheltens is head of the Alzheimer Center at the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam.

Souvenaid has a unique mixture of nutrients that work by stimulating the connections between nerves, also known as synapses. Losing these connections is what many experts think is responsible for losing memory in Alzheimer’s patients.  Studies demonstrate that the nutrients in Souvenaid can help grow new synapses in the brain. People taking Souvenaid daily over three months had improved scores on memory tests.

Scheltens is cautiously optimistic about the new findings. More research needs to be done before any conclusions can be drawn, but he thinks it is a step in the right direction.

Souvenir II was completed at  27 centers in six countries in Europe to see if the effects from Souvenir I would last for eight weeks. This study used additional measures to test for recall and also measured brain activity. Of 259 subjects, over 91% finished the study.

Memory was tested at the beginning, at 12 weeks, and at 24 weeks. The composite score was gotten from the Rey Audtiory Verbal Test which tests instant recall, delayed memory, and recognition. The Wechlser Scale which tested verbal association was also used.

Over the 24 weeks, the total scores from the Souvenaid group were much higher than those from the control group. Besides just looking at memory scores, they are attempting to analyze the electroencephalogram and magnetoencephalogram data, which may help figure out the influence  Souveniad has on synapse building in patients with Alzehimer’s disease and dementia.

CTAD is sponsored by the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and the European Alzheimer’s Disease Consortium (EADC).

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post on Alzheimer’s disease (AD) research and the need for volunteers. I had heard nurse practitioner, Alice Brown, from Georgetown University Medical Center speak on Research in Alzheimer’s Disease: Hope for the Future. She is part of the Memory Disorders Program at Georgetown. There are many such programs across the country. Click here for a list of others. At Georgetown alone, there are at least seven research trials for which volunteers are needed. By volunteers, they mean everyone, including normal people. The trend in research is to identify people at risk for developing AD before they even show symptoms of the disease. AD does not develop overnight and pathology is present in the brain long before any signs or symptoms appear.

Alzheimer’s disease is the third most expensive disease in the US after cancer and cardiovascular disease and the fifth leading cause of death in those over 65. But not counted in the cost is the hours and hours of caregiver burden. We also know that age is the biggest factor in AD, but after that the major risk is a positive family history of the disease. Offspring of an individual with AD have a higher risk of getting AD as they age — about 30% compared to 10% of the general population of the same age.

Here is what current research is targeting:

  • Immune system — rid the body of toxic beta amyloid protein that form plaques (a known cause of AD)
    • Vaccines that allow the body to develop its own antibodies (active immunity)
    • Infusions that provide the body with antibodies within the infusion (passive immunity)
  • Brain repair — Nerve Growth Factor
    • Targets microglia — immune cells in the brain — to reproduce and repair the damage caused by beta amyloid
  • Inflammation — presumes inflammatory changes produce cell death and neuronal loss
  • Biomarkers – to help predict who may or may not develop AD and helps determine earlier targets for therapy
    • Cerebral spinal final (spinal tap — LP)
    • Imaging (MRI and PET)
  • Diabetes — questions regarding the role of insulin in brain function and metabolism

Brown stressed that the greatest barrier to progress in research is not enough volunteers and getting people to the location where the study is being conducted. If a study can’t recruit enough subjects or it takes a long time, then it will take longer to complete a trial and analyze results. Other problems are funding and the location of the study site.

For more information on the Georgetown program, check out this Web site — http://memory.georgetown.edu. In a future post, we will look at the exciting, new findings.

In three days, it will be 15 years since my father passed away. September also marks one year since I started this blog. It has opened my eyes (and my brain) to so many things. I’ve written about a variety of subjects, a number of them focused on research. Most recently, I got involved in a study at George Mason University (GMU). As a part of this study, I consented for them to do an MRI of my brain which they did last week. The anticipation of it all was more nerve-wracking than the procedure itself. The MRI machine at GMU is just for brain research and is smaller than the typical machine that is used for diagnosing other diseases and problems in hospitals and imaging centers.

Also last week, I went to a near-by assisted living facility where a nurse practitioner from Georgetown University Medical Center spoke on Research in Alzheimer’s Disease: Hope for the Future. Her talk will be the topic of another blog post, but one of the main difficulties that research studies are facing is the lack of participants. There are many research studies going on across the country. In a previous post on research, I mentioned a government Web site where you can look at some clinical studies recruiting for volunteers. Even the study that I’m in at George Mason University is looking for more subjects. Send me an e-mail for more information — info@aboutalz.com.

So if you’ve ever wondered if Alzheimer’s disease research needs volunteers, the answer is a resounding yes! It will not cost you anything except your time. You will be contributing toward understanding the staggering fact that every 70 seconds, a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and with our aging population, the numbers will continue to rise. We must do all that we can to stop this and help find a cure!