Red wine has long been thought of as heart healthy, but now scientists are looking to see if it can also help the brain.
At 86-years-old, Bob Sessions has never had a sip of alcohol, but now he's hoping that red wine will be the key to stopping his Alzheimer's disease.
"I'm buying time. Prolonging my life," he says.
Sessions recently enrolled in the "Red Wine Study" at Georgetown University Medical Center, where doctors are investigating whether a compound in red grapes called Resveratrol can stop Alzheimer's progression.
Neurologist Dr. Raymond Turner is leading the study at Georgetown.
He says researchers don't know exactly how Resveratrol 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 and so 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," he says.
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.
"You couldn't possibly drink this much red wine at home," Dr. Turner laughs.
Julia and Bob Sessions say they realize this study won't cure his disease, but even if it slows it down or helps prevent Alzheimer's in the future, it's worth it.
"I want to stay as alive as I can for as long as I can," Sessions says.
Georgetown is one of 26 institutions across the country participating in this study.
They are recruiting patients will mild or early-stage Alzheimer's disease.