Dementia is a neurodegenerative disease resulting in a marked decline in cognitive ability. The condition is primarily diagnosed in older adults (over 65 years of age) and global prevalence is currently high. Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, is characterised by gradual cognitive decline, particularly memory loss.
It is possible to see the terrible effects of Alzheimer’s disease by studying brain tissue under a microscope. Alzheimer’s patients typically have plaques in their brain that form when protein pieces called beta-amyloid clump together. The small clumps may block signalling between cells. Another substance implicated in the development of Alzheimer’s is a protein known as tau. In a healthy brain, tau helps to keep molecules being transported through the brain on track. But in people with dementia, tau collapses into twisted strands called tangles
In the early stages of dementia, before symptoms can be detected, plaques and tangles begin to form in brain areas involved in learning, memory, thinking and planning. These plaques and tangles are prime suspects in what causes cell death and tissue loss in the Alzheimer’s brain. Other hallmarks of dementia include the loss of synapses, nerve cell death, inflammation and the presence of harmful chemicals such as free radicals and cytokines.
There are several studies suggesting a diet rich in isoflavones can improve cognition and memory. One Japanese study found that a diet containing a high proportion of soybean and soybean products was associated with reduced risk of dementia. Dietary soy isoflavones have been shown to have beneficial effects on cognitive, learning and memory tasks in rodents, improving spatial memory in aged male rats and working memory in aged female rats. Another study suggested isoflavone supplements can improve cognitive function in postmenopausal women. Flavonoids derived from grape seed extract have also been shown to reduce the tangling of tau protein in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease.
Metavone’s suite of isoflavone compounds have the potential to address several steps in the development and progression of dementia diseases.
initial screening in pre-clinical computer-based modelling has identified 20 isoflavone compounds with the capacity to affect various biochemical processes associated with dementia. These processes include:
- production of beta-amyloid;
- production of neurofibrillary tangles;
- enzymatic processes associated with inflammation;
- production of inflammatory intermediates; and
- generation of and influence of free radicals.
The testing further indicates that various of the compounds exhibit one or more of the following features – binding to beta-amyloid and tau proteins, binding to acetylcholinesterase (an important enzyme regulating chemical messages sent in the brain), inhibiting inflammatory enzymes, regulating oxidative enzymes and neutralising reactive oxygen species.