Compounds in blackcurrants may help slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease, according to British scientists.
The Scottish Crop Research Institute is working on a project trying to identify if the fruits can help tackle the crippling brain disease.
This new project will examine cost-effective methods of extracting the compounds and how they can be developed into new functional food ingredients.
The research team is to use its expertise in blackcurrant research to identify the active components and help optimise their extraction.
The consortium will also help formulate the best-performing blackcurrant components into products suitable for human use.
The precise mechanism of how Alzheimer's develops is not yet fully understood.
However, major scientific evidence suggests that brains suffering from the disease are characterised by intense oxidative stress.
Recent data suggests that diets containing various natural polyphenol compounds, with their associated high antioxidant capacity, can reduce the risk of the development of Alzheimer's and other degenerative neurological conditions.
Fruit juices including blackcurrant have recently been shown to have strong neuroprotective activity in model systems.
"The natural components in blackcurrants have potent effects in the human cell and we believe that this activity, potentially antioxidant or by other mechanisms, reduces the damage to the nerve cells that initiates the progression to Alzheimer's disease," the Daily Express Dr Derek Stewart of the SCRI as saying.