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Diabetes Drug Improves Memory in Mice That Were Engineered to Show Features of Alzheimer’s Disease

September 17, 2013
Source: Neuropharmacology

A commonly prescribed diabetes drug could improve memory and reverse the build-up of plaques on the brain linked to Alzheimer’s, according to research published in Neuropharmacology.

Results from the Alzheimer’s Society-funded study, led by Professor Christian Hölscher who is now at Lancaster University, show that the drug liraglutide might be able to reverse some of the damage caused by Alzheimer’s disease, even in the later stages of the condition.

Mice with late-stage Alzheimer’s given the drug performed significantly better on an object recognition test and their brains showed a 30 per cent reduction in the build-up of toxic plaques.

Most drugs that show promising effects in dementia do so at an early stage of the disease; these results from a more advanced stage of Alzheimer’s will provide hope that this drug could be of benefit for people in the moderate to severe stages too.

Liraglutide is a member of a class of drugs known as a GLP-1 analogue. The drug is used to stimulate insulin production in diabetes, but research shows it can also pass through the blood brain barrier and have a protective effect on brain cells.

This study demonstrates the drug’s potential to reverse the changes in the brain caused by the condition.

A major clinical trial led by Dr. Paul Edison of Imperial College London and partly funded by the Alzheimer’s Society to test the effectiveness of the drug on people with Alzheimer’s disease will begin recruiting patients in the next few weeks.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. The condition is caused by diseases of the brain and is characterized by the slow death of brain cells. It is progressive, ultimately terminal and there is yet no cure. If successful in clinical trials this will be the first new dementia treatment in a decade.

Dr. Doug Brown, Director of Research and Development at Alzheimer’s Society, said, “This exciting study suggests that one of these drugs can reverse the biological causes of Alzheimer’s even in the late stages and demonstrates we’re on the right track. We’re now funding a new trial to bring it closer to a position where it can be improving the lives of people with dementia.”

Adapted from Lancaster University

  • Dr. Steven Arnold, a BrightFocus-funded researcher, and colleagues have identified the anti-diabetes drug, metformin, as a safe medicine that enters the brain and re-sensitizes insulin receptors. He is conducting a clinical trial with metformin in people with mild cognitive impairment and early dementia due to Alzheimer's disease to determine its effect on cognitive functioning and physiological and biochemical biomarkers of this brain disorder.

View all news updates for Alzheimer's disease

Disclaimer: The information provided in this section is a public service of the BrightFocus Foundation, and should not in any way substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional, and is not intended to constitute medical advice. Although we take efforts to keep the medical information on our website updated, we cannot guarantee that the information on our website reflects the most up-to-date research. Please consult your physician for personalized medical advice; all medications and supplements should only be taken under medical supervision. BrightFocus Foundation does not endorse any medical product or therapy.

Some of the content in this section is adapted from other sources, which are clearly identified within each individual item of information.

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