Developing a cure for any disease is a tedious process that often ends in disappointment or inconclusive results. It is then a rare occurrence when a treatment for a disease is found to be more efficient in treating another ailment. In this case, researchers may have found an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s while conducting test trials for a drug designed to combat type 2 diabetes.
The new study published in the journal, Brain Research, suggests that a new drug created to regulate obesity could also slow down Alzheimer’s development.
Researchers have stated that people who have type 2 diabetes are already prone to contracting Alzheimer’s. More so, those who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s have brain cells that are unable to use glucose, which is the prime fuel source for all cells. The same inability to manage glucose is present in diabetics. Low insulin levels in diabetics mean that they can’t produce glucose as easily. Researchers thus hope that the new drug will be able to fix the brain’s dysfunction and by association delay Alzheimer’s progression.
The new drug acts by binding to the receptors of three distinct hormones and allowing the body’s cells to take more of each. These hormones are glucagon-like peptide (GLP-1), glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP), and glucagon. The first two hormones allow the body to produce insulin as well as amplify its effects, whereas glucagon is released when blood sugar levels are low. Glucagon essentially acts as an equalizer.
The drug combines all three of the hormones’ effects to curve obesity in diabetic mice by balancing their blood sugar levels and force them to lose weight.
In addition, researchers monitored the effects of this drug on genetically bred mice that have many symptoms of Alzheimer’s including memory loss and damaged nerve cells. The scientists injected the mice with the drug on a daily basis for two months. These mice showed less chronic brain inflammation and even improved neuron growth. More so, the rodents were able to complete maze tests, suggesting that the drug had halted or even reversed the disease.
According to the scientists, the drug “holds clear promise of being developed into a new treatment for chronic neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease,”
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