Compound in Red Wine May Fight Alzheimer's
Don't Raise a Toast Just Yet, Researcher Cautions
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Why Not Just Eat and Drink It?
It would probably be impractical, Marambaud says, to try to get the levels of resveratol used in his study from food or drink.
Natural resveratrol is unstable, Marambaud says. That makes it hard to get protection from eating grapes or drinking wine.
Plus, resveratrol doesn't have the compound market cornered. It's got lots of chemical company in a glass of wine or a bunch of grapes.
It's difficult to know if those compounds team up when they're together -- working differently than in isolation -- and how that might affect Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, Marambaud says.
"Maybe if you drink wine for 20 years, you may have a beneficial effect," Marambaud speculates. "But people want to hear something in the short term."
Marambaud and colleagues want to tweak resveratrol to make it a drug.
"We're going to take this natural compound as a scaffold and modify [it] chemically to make it more active and ... more stable," Marambaud says.
"It is known from previous studies that if you isolate, purify, or produce the compound directly and you inject it in mice, the compound is very rapidly degraded, mostly by the kidney system," he explains. "To use it as a drug like that is difficult."
Marambaud says his team has already developed a series of molecules that are 20 times more active than natural resveratrol in terms of reducing beta-amyloid protein.
Those molecules are already being tested on mice; tests will take six months to a year and will check for toxicity, Marambaud says.
He adds that resveratrol has been shown to have some "very interesting pharmacological effects" against herpes, some cancers, and possibly neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington's.
Black grapes are nature's best source of resveratrol, Marambaud notes.
Red grapes have more resveratrol than green grapes, and red wine is richer in resveratrol than white wine.
Peanuts and some berries also have some resveratrol, says Marambaud.
He explains that plants generally make resveratrol as a defense against infection. "Some specific grapes were found to be very good at this ... especially black grapes," Marambaud says.