China approves seaweed-based Alzheimer’s drug that could treat early forms of the disease

A seaweed-based drug that could treat early forms of Alzheimer’s disease was approved by Chinese authorities.

It’s the first drug in 17 years to treat the neurological disorder. It’s called Oligomannate and can be used to treat mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.

The product was created based on how elderly people who regularly ate seaweed showed a lower occurrence of the disease, according to the South China Morning Post. Chinese researchers looked into the possible connections between seaweed consumption and cognitive functions.

In 1997, the team found a sugar in seaweed that could contribute to the lower occurrence rates, South China Morning Post reported. It took the team almost 20 years since then to develop Oligomannate.

The drug has shown to reduce the formation of a harmful protein and regulated certain bacteria in the intestine that reduces the risk of brain inflammation.

While it’s been approved for distribution by Chinese authorities, the approval documents indicated that the pharmaceutical company that will make the drug must still research how it works, its safety and overall effectiveness, according to the South China Morning Post.

The drug may be made available by the end of the year. It’s not recommended to be taken as a precautionary drug if older people do not show signs of the disease and those in the further stages of Alzheimer’s will not see any changes, according to the drugmaker.

This story was reported from Los Angeles.