Red wine has long been thought of as heart healthy, but now scientists are looking to see if it can also help the brain.
Doctors are conducting a study to look at whether a compound found in wine and red grapes called Resveratrol can prevent brain aging and possibly stop degenerative diseases like Alzheimer's from worsening.
Dr. Raymond Turner is a neurologist at Georgetown University Medical Center, one of the 26 centers across the country conducting the research.
"This is a totally new approach. We've never tried this before for Alzheimer's Disease," said Turner.
Turner said researchers don't know exactly how Reservatrol works, but they believe it can activate a gene associated with brain aging.
"Of course aging is the major risk factor for Alzheimer's disease, as well as diabetes, cancer and heart disease," said Turner. "We think that if it really does target these genes that affect the aging process, then it has the potential to benefit many disorders, not just Alzheimer's disease, but other like diabetes as well."
Patients in the study won't actually be drinking red wine. They'll be given pills with a concentrated form of the compound. The dose will increase every three months and by the end of the year-long study, they'll have had the Resveratrol equivalent of 1,000 bottles of red wine.
Not everyone who enrolls in the study will receive Resveratrol. Half of the participants will receive a placebo.
Researchers are recruiting patients will mild or early-stage Alzheimer's disease.
Bob Sessions, 86, is enrolled in the study. He said he realizes the research won't cure his disease, but if it slows it down or helps prevent Alzheimer's in the future, it's worth it.
"I'm not a fellow who gives up, and I'm not going to give up yet," said Sessions. "I want to stay as alive as I can for as long as I can."
To learn more about the study, click here.
For a list of centers participating in the research, click here.