A pill for Alzheimer's disease is on the horizon... based on brussel sprouts! 

Scientists say the Christmas favourite contains a nutrient which they believe combats neurological disorders, including dementia. 

They are creating a supercharged version of the acid produced by vitamin A rich vegetables like sprouts, carrots, spinach and tomatoes. 

Human trials could begin in the next two years. 

In the body vitamin A is turned into retinoic acid, which then interacts with specific receptors and plays a vital role the human central nervous system. 

It is particularly important for the eye and brain as the embryo is developing. 

In the adult brain retinoic acid is believed to play a different, more 'focussed' role and there are suggestions it could affect neural disorders, both degenerative and psychiatric. 

Professor Peter McCaffery, of the University of Aberdeen, expalined: "When we eat brussel sprouts it increases the amount of this acid in the brain. 

"We are not saying doubling your portion of sprouts over Christmas will stop you getting Alzheimer's. 

"That would be the wrong message. But they are good for the body, so that means they are good for the brain. 

"The compound we are developing works on exactly the same receptors as the acid from brussel sprouts. 

"The evidence is it will boost the number of neurons and the connections between them." 

Added Prof McCaffery: "We are basically trying to create a massively amplified version of what vitamin A already does for the body. 

"By exploiting the natural consequences of retinoic acid by creating a synthetic alternative, we hope to be able to create a new therapeutic which could be used to help people with Alzheimer's disease." 

His team and experts at the University of Durham and chemical development company High Force Research are now set to begin a £250,000 two year project funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). 

They have designed synthetic versions of retinoic acid that interact with the body's natural receptors in the brain in an even more powerful way than the regular type. 

They hope to progress to therapeutics - mainly for Alzheimer's but potentially Parkinson's disease and other neurodegenerative conditions. 

Another unique aspect of the study is the method used to screen the new synthetic compounds, making the process more efficient. 

With the cost of drug discovery rising and the time to develop new drugs increasing, this new process is another important factor that contributed to the project being identified for further funding. 

Prof Peter McCaffery, who is leading the project, said: "There are other projects of a similar nature but they are focused on different receptors and we are confident our compound will prove to be more successful. 

"Added to that, our unique screening process is an exciting innovation which should increase the efficiency of the process and could have implications beyond this particular project." 

Prof McCaffery will work alongside Dr Iain Greig and Prof Bettina Platt at the University of Aberdeen and Prof Andrew Whiting from the University of Durham. 

He added: "During the next two years we hope to develop a compound that can be tested on animals, and if that goes well human trials would begin. 

"We think this is a genuinely promising route to go down. Cases of Alzheimer's are soaring across the world because of the ageing population so it is vital we find a treatment. 

"It not only effects individual sufferers, but has a devastating impact on their carers as well. I am confident we will get there, as long as the funding from the government and drugs companies remains." 

There are 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia, a figure forecast to rise to more than a million by 2025, and over two million by 2051. 

Last month it became Britain's biggest killer, overtaking heart disease as the leading cause of death in England and Wales. 

In 2015 it claimed the lives of more than 61,000, 11.6 percent of all recorded deaths.