Oleh Azman Zakaria
Photos by Noor Azreen Awang & Marina Ismail
SERDANG, May 18 (UPM) – Weak memory problems or Alzheimer, stress, hypertension and depression can be overcome if not controlled through the use of Omega-3 fatty acids.
In this regards, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) researcher and senior lecturer of Neurophysiology of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Dr Hafandi Ahmad, will kick start a pioneer project, armed with Omega-3 fatty acids in the form of capsules, to be given to selected students, especially those who are weak in their lessons to be taken as a supplement.
The programme conducted following the finding of his research on laboratory animals – rats and mice – involved three generations of the animals that Omega-3 fatty acids could actually improve their memory and fitness and reduce worry and anxiety.
According to him, he had forwarded an application of RM20,000 under a grant scheme on Transfer of Knowledge Technology programme to the Education Ministry to implement an educational programme on the use of Omega-3 fatty acids as supplements for candidates sitting for Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) in several schools in Putrajaya.
“We will identify several students at the schools who are weak in their study to be given Omega-3 fatty acids in the form of capsules. We will then make an assessment of their performances in all examinations, including SPM.
“This is a pioneer project, the first to have been conducted on humans in this country,” he said in an interview.
His research on rats and mice in 2008/2009, the first of its kind to have been carried out in the world, using three generations of the animals, found that Omega-3 fatty acids are capable of keeping the third generation strong, even without them using the fatty acids as their diet.
“We assessed the DNA expression in the brains of these animals. What is interesting was that we used three generations of the animals, from the mother, her children, right up to her grandchildren and we married them off, those with Omega-3 fatty acids and those without,” he said.
The outcome of the research was presented at the British Neuro Science international conference in the United Kingdom in 2011.
Last year, he was awarded the Best Oral Speaker at the national level of Malaysia Neuro Science Association through his presentation on his research in the area of laboratory animals . physiology
Dr Hafandi also won the Vice-Chancellor Fellowship award – Young Educator Category – during the Putra Academic Excellence ceremony, which was presented by Selangor Sultan, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, who is also UPM Chancellor, at the university recently.
He was also picked as the winner of the International Young Scientist award in Japan in 2012, through his working paper on neurophysiology and hypertension on laboratory animals.
At present, he said, he wanted to focus on research findings in producing a diet formula, molecular study and publishing manuscripts in selected journals while allowing Omega-3 fatty acids to be manufactured by the industry.
By the end of this year, he is set to publish his research finding in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.
He added that he used three methodologies in his study on rats and mice, i.e Y-maze, T-maze and swimming test where Omega-3 fatty acids were injected into the body of the animals.
He said the finding of the research showed that the rats and mice placed in Y-maze and T-maze were more active in their movements and possessed strong memory and they were more active while swimming towards the platform in the swimming test.
In his latest research, he used Omega-3 fatty acids on a new animal model, i.e Zebra fish for the Y-maze method. The findings showed the Zebra fish with Omega-3 could swim faster and had good memory when exploring Y-maze.
“This proves that Omega-3 fatty acids are capable of strengthening the memory and reducing pressure, panic and depression because they are saturated fat that could help stimulate blood circulation in the brain.
“Those who take Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly sports enthusiasts, will feel more energetic while students will have their memory improved.
“It also helps to control and reduce memory loss like those who are suffering from Alzheimer,” he said.
The research is made possible through a RM99,000 Fundamental Research Grant Scheme.
Members of the public, therefore, are encouraged to take food containing Omega-3 fatty acids which are rich in marine resources and fishes, seaweeds and other food products. - UPM