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2015 Part the Cloud Translational Research Funding for Alzheimer’s Disease (PCTR)

Proof of Mechanism of a New Ketogenic Supplement Using Dual Tracer PET

This Phase 1b/2a clinical trial will examine the safety and effectiveness of a novel dietary supplement as an alternative fuel source for the brain to stabilize or reverse declining memory observed in early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

Stephen Cunnane, Ph.D.
Université de Sherbrooke - Service de la recherche et de la création
Sherbrooke, Québec - Canada


Stephen Cunnane, Ph.D., and colleagues will conduct a combination Phase 1b/2a clinical study to explore a dietary supplement consisting of specific fats in individuals who have declining memory associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Research Plan

The research team has been using advanced brain imaging techniques to study how the brain uses different energy sources such as sugars and ketones in different situations. They have found that even in people with Alzheimer’s disease with impaired use of blood sugar, the brain may retain its ability to use ketones, which are chemicals made when the body begins using fat instead of carbohydrates for energy. They have identified a dietary supplement consisting of specific fats called medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) that are efficiently converted into ketones and cause minimal side effects in the body.


Dr. Cunnane and colleagues have proposed studying the effects of MCTs in older individuals who have early memory loss, possibly indicating mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a condition that sometimes precedes Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers will use brain imaging to measure energy use and blood flow in response to MCT administration and determine whether improvements in these brain functions enhance memory. Although early in the process, the objective of this study is to test whether MCTs can be used as a safe way to potentially help delay the onset or progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

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