A diabetes drug that includes three growth factors has reversed Alzheimer’s-related memory loss in mice.
This is not the first drug originally aimed at diabetes that may eventually help Alzheimer’s.
Type-2 diabetes is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s, and has been implicated in the disease’s progression.
Professor Christian Holscher, who led the study, said the drug…
“…holds clear promise of being developed into a new treatment for chronic neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.”
Dr Doug Brown, Director of Research and Development at Alzheimer’s Society, said:
“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.
This approach to research could make it much quicker to get promising new drugs to the people who need them.
Although the benefits of these ‘triple agonist’ drugs have so far only been found in mice, other studies with existing diabetes drugs such as liraglutide have shown real promise for people with Alzheimer’s, so further development of this work is crucial.”
The drug was tested on mice genetically engineered to suffer from Alzheimer’s.
The study found that the drug reduced amyloid plaques — protein build-ups linked to Alzheimer’s.
It also protected nerve cell functioning, reduced inflammation and nerve cell loss.
This is the first evidence that a so-called ‘triple receptor’ drug can be effective.
It uses three different growth factors — GLP-1, GIP and Glucagon — that target impaired signalling in Alzheimer’s patients.
Professor Holscher said:
“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.
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.
Here we show that a novel triple receptor drug shows promise as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s but further dose-response tests and direct comparisons with other drugs have to be conducted in order to evaluate if this new drug is superior to previous ones.”
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The study was published in the journal Brain Research (Tai et al., 2018).