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ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - Glucose, or sugar, is a substance our brains need to function properly.

But in people with Alzheimer's disease, there are parts of the brain that just don't have enough of it.

So doctors at St. Louis University are looking for people with mild to moderate Alzheimer's to see if increasing their body's glucose levels will help.

"This natural substance, this medical food that we're studying, can take the place, can kind of back up, a glucose deficiency, or lack of glucose and provide the neurons, or the brain cells with energy," said Dr. George Grossberg, a geriatric psychiatrist at St. Louis University School of Medicine. "We hope that keeps (the cells) alive and prevents them from being destroyed by this brain disease."

Volunteers would mix a packet of powder with water or juice, and drink it once a day as a supplement.

Neither patients nor the doctors running the study will know if the powder is glucose or a placebo.

Initially, those accepted into the study would have their level of functioning carefully analyzed. It will also be carefully measured throughout the course of treatment.

At the end of trial, researchers will measure the patient's functioning again to see if it has improved or declined.

"What we're really hoping to do over time is slow the rate of progression and buy people more quality, more functional time," Dr. Grossberg said.

Excess intestinal gas is one of the few side effects of taking the medical food.

More than 60 medical centers across the country, including St. Louis University are participating.

"Our goal is stabilization, decreasing the rate of decline" in patient's functioning, says Dr. Grossberg.

To find out more about the study, call the clinical research unit at St. Louis University at (314) 977-4900 and use reference IRB number 23360

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