A drug developed for diabetes could be used to treat Alzheimer’s after scientists found it “significantly reversed memory loss” in mice.
The research, published in Brain Research, could bring substantial improvements in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease through the use of a drug originally created to treat type 2 diabetes.
Lead researcher Professor Christian Holscher of Lancaster University in the UK said the novel treatment “holds clear promise of being developed into a new treatment for chronic neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease”.
Dementia is the second leading cause of death among Australians, and the single greatest cause of disability in older Australians (aged 65 years or older). There are more than 413,106 Australians currently living with dementia.
Dr Doug Brown, Director of Research and Development at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “With no new treatments in nearly 15 years, we need to find new ways of tackling Alzheimer’s. It’s imperative that we explore whether drugs developed to treat other conditions can benefit people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. This approach to research could make it much quicker to get promising new drugs to the people who need them.”
The study used mice that expressed human mutated genes that cause Alzheimer’s. Those genes have been found in people who have a form of Alzheimer’s that can be inherited.
In a maze test, learning and memory formation were much improved by the drug, which also:
- enhanced levels of a brain growth factor which protects nerve cell functioning
- reduced the amount of amyloid plaques in the brain linked with Alzheimer’s
- reduced both chronic inflammation and oxidative stress
- slowed down the rate of nerve cell loss
“These very promising outcomes demonstrate the efficacy of these novel multiple receptor drugs that originally were developed to treat type 2 diabetes but have shown consistent neuro-protective effects in several studies,” Prof Holscher said.
“Clinical studies with an older version of this drug type already showed very promising results in people with Alzheimer’s disease or with mood disorders.
“Here we show that a novel triple receptor drug shows promise as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s but further dose-response tests and direct comparisons with other drugs have to be conducted in order to evaluate if this new drug is superior to previous ones.”
Type 2 diabetes is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s and has been implicated in the progression of the disease.
Do you currently take diabetes medication? Do you think your memory has improved since you started taking it?