A therapeutic drug created for Type 2 diabetes has been discovered to hold potential in reversing dementia caused by Alzheimer's disease.
Aside from being a known risk factor for the disease, Type 2 diabetes is also linked to its progression. Apparently, insulin does not only regulate blood sugar levels. It plays a critical role in protecting the brain from atrophy. Since Type 2 diabetes impedes production of the hormone, it exposes an affected person to an array of neurodegenerative disorders, not only Alzheimer's.
The drug worked in diabetics by increasing their insulin sensitivity. It contains GLP-1/GIP/Glucagon, which serve as indicators of Alzheimer's. Reduced levels of the three hormones are found in brains of patients diagnosed with the disorder.
Potential Alzheimer's Treatment Fights Brain Degeneration Through Multiple Ways
To prove the drug's effectiveness in combating Alzheimer's, an international team of researchers led by Christian Holscher of Lancaster University tested it on aged mice with mutated human genes carrying a hereditary form of the disease. The transgenic animals were also in the advanced stages of brain atrophy.
The team reports through a study that after a maze test, the mice exhibited an improvement in learning and memory as well as higher levels of GLP-1/GIP/Glucagon; lowered amount of amyloid plaque in the brain, a protein that is toxic to neurons; decreased inflammation and oxidative stress; and slower nerve cell deterioration.
"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," Holscher says in a report.
The study was funded by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, Shanxi Province, and a grant from the Alzheimer Society UK.
Data Shows Millions More Will Be Diagnosed With Dementia
Alzheimer's disease has been recognized as the most common culprit of dementia. Data reveals that in the UK, there are currently 850,000 patients with the disease and this figure is expected to rise to two million in 2051.
The numbers are more alarming in the U.S., where five million Alzheimer's patients have been recorded. It is expected to soar as high as 16 million by 2050.
"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," says Doug Brown, director of Research and Development at Alzheimer's Society.
The experiment conducted on mice marks the first time a triple receptor drug demonstrated multiple benefits in protecting the brain.