Clinical Trial for Diabetes Drug that May Reverse Alzheimer's

Christine Kennard Health Pro
  • An Alzheimer's Society UK funded research has found that a commonly used medication for diabetes, Liraglutide (marketed as Victosa) may to be effective in reversing some of the damage caused in the later stages of Alzheimer's. The drug, approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in January 2010, stimulates insulin production. It is at present used for people with type 2 diabetes.


    This month Professor Christian Hölscher and his team at Lancaster University in the UK published their results in the journal Neuropharmacology. They found that when mice were given the drug they performed better in a object recognition test and their brains showed an amazing 30% reduction in the build up of toxic plaques.

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    Liraglutide has the ability to pass the through the blood-brain barrier . The blood-brain barrier is a layer of tightly packed cells that make up the walls of brain capillaries and prevents substances in the blood from diffusing freely into the brain. It acts as barrier and cells act as a filter for blood flowing to the central nervous system. The blood-brain barrier blocks certain drugs (but not liraglutide), chemical compounds and viruses from gaining access to the central nervous system from the bloodstream.


    We really need a breakthrough in drug treatments for Alzheimer's disease. There is still no cure and the drugs we do have, such as the cholinesterase inhibitor medications  Exelon, Namenda, Cognex, Razadyne and Aricept, only work for limited times. By using drugs that have already been approved, albeit in the treatment of a different disease, it may help reduce the time from clinical trial to the production of a new drug treatment. Liraglutide is going to be used in a major clinical trial in the UK to test its effectiveness for people with Alzheimer's disease.


    We already know the drug has side effects and is not the first line of treatment for diabetes type 2 partly because of them. The FDA has issued a boxed warning of potential serious disease from the drug.

    "Liraglutide causes thyroid C-cell tumors at clinically relevant exposures in rodents. It is unknown whether Victoza causes thyroid C-cell tumors, including medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC), in humans, as human relevance could not be determined by clinical or nonclinical studies (5.1). Victoza is contraindicated in patients with a personal or family history of MTC or in patients with Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome" It is also a risk factor for acute pancreatitis.


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    Christian Holscher, 'Liraglutide can reverse memory impairment, synaptic loss and reduce plaque load in aged APP/PS1 mice, a model of Alzheimer's disease.' Published online in Neuropharmacology, Wednesday 11 September 2013

Published On: September 19, 2013