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Diabetes drug could be used to treat Alzheimer’s

A drug originally designed to treat diabetes “significantly reversed memory loss” in mice, and has potential for treating Alzheimer’s disease in people, according to British scientists.

In a new study published in the journal Brain Research, lab rodents with age- and Alzheimer’s-related brain deterioration were given a triple receptor drug that protects brain cells in three ways. The animals were then put through a maze to test their memory.

Mice given the drug showed memory improvement and reduced plaque buildup in the brain, a telltale sign of Alzheimer’s. The mice also showed improvement in terms of inflammation and cellular health of the brain.

Findings suggest that the drug “holds clear promise of being developed into a new treatment for chronic neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease,” said senior author Christian Hölscher of Lancaster University in the UK.

Alzheimer’s experts said that the results are especially encouraging since there have been “no new (Alzheimer’s) treatments in nearly 15 years.”

The drug, referred to as a “triple receptor agonist” by researcher, acts in a number of ways to protect the brain from degeneration by simultaneously activating the trio of growth factors GIP-1, GIP and glucagon. Growth factors are proteins that stimulate the growth of specific tissues.

The connection between diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease has been studied for several years. The new development and potential treatment option is exciting since more than 5 million Americans are now living with Alzheimer’s. By 2050 that number could be as high as 16 million.

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