After Reversing Memory Loss In Mice, Diabetes Drug May Be Used To Treat Alzheimer’s Disease; Say Scientists

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New Delhi: In a breakthrough trial, scientists have discovered that a common diabetes drug “significantly reverses memory loss” in mice that have Alzheimer’s disease, a disorder that affects 5.5 million Americans.

It might seem strange that diabetes drugs can be used to reverse Alzheimer’s, but surprisingly, the two conditions are actually linked. Type 2 diabetes is known to be a risk factor in Alzheimer’s, and a lack of insulin, which is caused by diabetes, can increase the likelihood of brain degeneration.

The study used transgenic mice which expressed human mutated genes that cause Alzheimer's. Finding effective ways to tackle Alzheimer's is of top priority, so for that discovering a drug that a drug normally used to treat type 2diabetes – is anyway exciting.

 

The drug was found to slow down the rate of nerve cell loss and reduce the amount of amyloid plaques in mice brain linked with Alzheimer's.

According to the scientists’ report, the drug “holds clear promise of being developed into a new treatment for chronic neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.”

 

The treatment is exciting for scientists because it works by protecting the brain cells attacked by Alzheimer's disease in three separate ways, rather than relying on a single approach.

“With no new treatments in nearly 15 years, we need to find new ways of tackling Alzheimer's,” as per Dr Doug Brown from Alzheimer’s Society. “It's imperative that we explore whether drugs developed to treat other conditions can benefit people with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia."

 

Although, the results have only been seen in mice so far; researchers now want to test it on humans. For them seeing the drug from future perspective, it's something that could hit the market a lot faster than other experimental treatment options.

It is because the drug “holds clear promise of being developed into a new treatment for chronic neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease itself,” said senior author Christian Hölscher of Lancaster University in the UK.

Previous research had already established a link between type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer's. So researchers have been investigating whether drugs that treat type 2 diabetes might also benefit Alzheimer's symptoms for a while now.

They've seen previous success in humans with an older diabetes drug known as liraglutide. But this is the first 'triple agonist' drug that's been tested. The new drug is known as a triple receptor drug, meaning that it targets Alzheimer’s in multiple ways. People with Alzheimer’s have impaired growth factors – substances like hormones that stimulate growth – in their brains. Therefore, the treatment combines three growth factors: GLP-1, GIP, and glucagon.

Seeing as growth factor signalling has been shown to be impaired in the brains of Alzheimer's patients, the idea was that the drug might help re-stimulate damaged brain cells and protect against further damage.

Experiment Result in Detail:

The researchers tested the drug in mice that had been genetically engineered to have Alzheimer's disease. 

They used a maze to measure the animal's learning and memory formation, and found that the drug "significantly reversed the memory deficit," the researchers write.

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They animals were injected with the triple receptor drug every day for two months before being subjected to a maze test.

After treatment, elderly mice in the advanced stages of Alzheimer have showed better learning and memory formation when completing the test. Their rate of nerve cell loss declined, they had fewer Alzheimer’s-linked plaques in their brains, and they had higher levels of a brain growth factor that protects nerve cell functioning.

The drug also:

  • enhanced levels of a brain growth factor which protects nerve cell functioning
  • reduced the amount of toxic amyloid plaques in the brain 
  • 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," said Hölscher.

There's still a long way to go before its clear whether or not this drug will have the same effect in humans, and whether it's the best option to move forward with.

But, the fact that this multi-approach drug has shown such promising results so far that it is incredibly exciting and is a great way to start 2018. Let’s hope that one day it will have a beneficial effect on not only mice, but people too.

News of this potential breakthrough was published this week in Brain Research.

 

References:

https://www.sciencealert.com

https://www.eurekalert.org

http://www.independent.co.uk

http://www.iflscience.com

Comments   

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