Rayyan looked at whether nutraceuticals could boost cognition and slow its decline due to aging and dementia.
The Effect of Targeting Multiple Neural Pathways Using Nutraceuticals on the Cognition of Drosophila Melanogaster
A Novel Multi-Target Approach Using Curcumin, Magnesium, and Coenzyme Q10
Sadly, Rayyan’s grandfather died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia. Ever since, he says, “I’ve always wanted to contribute and help people with the condition.” He decided to see if nutraceuticals could boost cognition and slow its decline from aging and dementia. Nutraceuticals are substances derived from foods and might have health benefits beyond their nutritional value.
Tactics and Results
For the experiment, Rayyan studied fruit flies by feeding them special diets. He gave some of them aluminum chloride, which caused cognitive problems to simulate dementia. He also tested various combinations of three nutraceuticals — curcumin, magnesium chloride and coenzyme Q10 — in both aluminum-fed flies and normal-diet flies. These nutraceuticals might aid biochemical pathways involved in learning. After providing these diets for about a week, he studied the fruit flies’ movement, learning, memory and survival over the next three weeks using lab equipment at the University of Texas at Dallas. The normal-diet flies given coenzyme Q10 performed the best in short-term memory tests. And those given magnesium were better at long-term memory tests than the other flies. In fruit flies with aluminum toxicity, those fed all three nutraceuticals had better learning and memory than the impaired flies not given any nutraceuticals. These substances, Rayyan says, could unlock therapeutic potential in people with impaired memory.
Beyond the Project
“There are many more naturally-occurring nutrients that have therapeutic effects and need to be tested,” Rayyan says.
Rayyan enjoys several extracurricular activities, including student council, science club, soccer, basketball and volunteering at a refugee center. He hopes to become a biomedical engineer. “Biomedical engineering is playing a big role in addressing global health challenges,” Rayyan says. “I think the ability to positively impact communities is greatly rewarding.”