A new study in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease have shown a drug developed for diabetes could be used to treat Alzheimer-related memory loss.
In a breakthrough trial, scientists have discovered that a common drug developed to treat type 2 diabetes “significantly reverses memory loss” in mice that have Alzheimer’s disease. The study by UK and Chinese universities found that triple receptor drugs improved learning and memory formation in the mice with severe nerve cell degeneration. It could therefore have potential as a new treatment for the disease in humans.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disease that slowly and progressively destroys brain cells. The prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease in Europe was recently estimated at 5.05% of the total population. It affects 60-65% percent of all people with dementia. Moreover, as the elderly population grows worldwide, the number of patients with AD is also rapidly increasing.
Type 2 diabetes is a known risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Impaired production of insulin – the hormone that people with diabetes don’t produce sufficiently to control their blood sugar – is linked to brain degeneration, hence these new tests. In fact, researchers have been exploring the connection between Alzheimer’s and diabetes for years.
Clinical studies with an older version of this drug type already showed very promising results in people with Alzheimer’s or with mood disorders. However, this time, Prof Christian Holscher, of Lancaster University, said published in the journal Brain Research, the drug “consistently shows neurological protective effects”. Mice that were given the drug showed reduced plaque buildup in the brain (a sign of Alzheimer’s) and improved memory overall.
He added: “Further tests and comparisons with other drugs are needed to evaluate if this drug is superior.” So, the road might still be quite long before widespread use. However, this discovery is very encouraging, and quite timely news as AD treatment has been stalling over the past few years. Dr Doug Brown, of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “With no new treatments in nearly 15 years, we need new ways of tackling the disease. “We must explore if drugs to treat other conditions can be of benefit.”
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