Danone has developed a drink that appears to help improve the memory of people suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s - and could revolutionise treatment of the disease.

The French dairy giant has been working with scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to research a possible cure for the disease for past six years.

Alzheimer’s sufferers gradually lose connections - or synapses - between brain cells, leading to memory loss and other impairments. Professor emeritus of brain and cognitive sciences at MIT Richard Wurtman claims to have created a mix of nutrients that stimulate new ones.

The latest research suggests that Souvenaid, which is made from three naturally occurring dietary compounds found in meats, fish, nuts and eggs, has a beneficial effect on those suffering from a mild form of the disease.

The results, which were presented to 4,000 attendees at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Vancouver this week, confirm and expand those of a 2008 trial, which found that 40% of patients who consumed the drink improved verbal memory.

All those who participated in the latest trial experienced improvements to their verbal memory, while brain patterns suggested synaptic function had increased, said Wurtman.

The results suggested the drink would be best suited to people who test positive for early signs of Alzheimer’s, he added. It would not work on patients with advanced stages of the disease.