Alzheimer’s disease: common diabetes drugs could bring back memories

By Sarah Knapton, Science Editor

Scientists at Lancaster and Ulster universities have discovered that two common diabetes drugs reverse the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s disease.
Drugs used to tackle Type 2 diabetes may also reverse Alzheimer’s disease and restore memories, a new study suggests.
Liraglutide and lixisenatide work by increasing insulin production, reducing the amount of sugar in the blood and by helping food pass more slowly through the stomach.
Now scientists at Ulster and Lancaster universities have discovered that they may also reverse the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s disease.
A study in mice showed that daily injections of the drugs for 10 weeks brought down levels of amyloid plaque in their brains and improved their memories and ability to recognise objects. The authors claim that the drug could offer a ‘potential new treatment’ for Alzheimer’s disease.
Professor Christian Holscher, of Lancaster University who led the study, said: “These are very exciting results.
“There are no drugs on the market for Alzheimer’s disease that actually treat the disease, all we currently have are two types of drugs that mask the symptoms for a while. Lixisenatide and liraglutide offer a real improvement by treating the basis of the disease and, therefore, preventing degeneration.”
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia; it is predicted there will be more than 520,000 people in the UK with the disease in 2015.
Previous studies have suggested that insulin may protect the brain and the new research suggests that it can also help repair damaged neurons.
Clinical trials using liraglutide are currently taking place and the results are expected to be available next year. The study was welcomed by experts and charities. Dr Simon Ridley, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Diabetes is a known risk factor for Alzheimer’s although we still do not fully understand the mechanisms linking the two conditions.
“Previous laboratory research has suggested that some treatments for Type 2 diabetes could help to protect the brain from the damage caused by Alzheimer’s disease. “This study found that two diabetes drugs could slow nerve cell damage in mice with some of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s and that the animals also performed better on a memory test. “While this study does highlight an interesting target for the development of new treatments for the disease, the next important step will be to see whether these benefits seen in mice can be reproduced in clinical trials in people.”
Dr James Pickett, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Society, added: “It is exciting that drugs used for type 2 diabetes have been found to be promising as potential treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, and could tackle the underlying changes in the brain that are causing the disease. Alzheimer’s Society funded earlier work that showed the promise of the drug liraglutide, and we are now funding a clinical trial of this drug in people with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease.
“Current treatments for Alzheimer’s only help with the symptoms for a short while and do not stop the disease from progressing.
“We believe that the concept of drug repurposing, where drugs already licensed for one condition may be beneficial for dementia, has enormous potential and could deliver new treatments faster and cheaper than producing a new drug from scratch. By speeding up the research process we hope to deliver a new dementia treatment within five to 10 years.”

The study was published in the journal Neuropharmacology.

The Telegraph

Posted by on Nov 16 2014. Filed under Community News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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