Two times daily, Betty Jaco of Irmo takes a mysterious gray pill.

It could be medicine, but maybe not.

“I don’t know what it is,” she said.

Jaco is one of about 120 people nationwide enrolled in a study of a substance being investigated to determine whether it slows the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Half are randomly selected to get the medicine and the rest receive a placebo.

She has been taking the pills for about four months.

“I can’t say that she’s much better but she doesn’t seem to be getting any worse,” said Kenneth Jaco, her husband.

The study was born when researchers noticed that in certain areas of France the people have less Alzheimer’s. They suspected it was because of something in the red wine.

“That was confirmed by science,” said Dr. Jacobo Mintzer, a geriatric psychiatrist at the Medical University of South Carolina.

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