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Thursday 27th October 2016

Can pine cones help with Alzheimer's disease?

2nd August 2012

Scientists have found a link between a chemical found in pine cones and a tablet that can slow the progress of Alzheimer’s disease.

Animal studies have revealed that the drug NIC5-15 could help prevent the formation of amyloid plaques, which are believed to coat the brain cells and stops them from working effectively.

The company Humanetics Corporation has developed the drug alongside researchers from Mount Sinai School of Medicine with early clinical trials on health volunteers showing it to be safe.

It is now planning to recruit further volunteers to test the optimum dose of the drug in terms of minimum side effects.

Ronald Zenk, President and CEO of Humanetics, said: “There is an urgent need for safe and effective disease modifying agents to lessen the debilitating symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. We are hopeful that NIC5-15 will satisfy that need.”

While current treatments can treat memory loss or mood swings, they do not stop the progress of Alzheimer’s, which affects about 300,000 people in the UK including well-known author Terry Pratchett.

NIC5-15 is a natural chemical compound found in fruits such as grape seeds as well as pine cones.

In separate research, an artificial ingredient that gives popcorn a buttery flavour has been linked to a key Alzheimer’s brain process.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota tested the effect of the ingredient diacetyl (DA) in a laboratory at exposure levels common in food factories and found it increased the level of amyloid clumping, which is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.


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