The Shriver Report: Evidence Shows Intra-Nasal Insulin Could Improve Memory in Alzheimer’s Patients

  • Last July, I posted a blog titled Nasal Insulin Could Help People with Early Alzheimer's or Mild Cognitive Decline. The post was centered on a study by researchers at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System/University of Washington-Seattle, with the results being presented at the 2010 Alzheimer's Association Conference on Alzheimer's Disease, in Honolulu.


    The study centered on how intra-nasal insulin, already used to treat diabetes, was showing good results in improving memory in those with Alzheimer's. While work remains to be done, the researchers said, "Evidence continues to accumulate that shows a correlation between overall health and Alzheimer's. Now, insulin, given in the form of a nasal spray, is being tested on people with Alzheimer's disease, with good preliminary results."

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    Most of us who are interested in Alzheimer's, and other dementias, are aware of the Alzheimer's series on ABC News this past week titled The Shriver Report 2010. With Maria Shriver at the helm, the steady stream of topics fit seamlessly into the dialogue many are having today: What are we going to do about Alzheimer's?


    One segment of the show focuses on new research and treatments. The segment shows an interview with a woman who has Alzheimer's and is taking intra-nasal insulin as a treatment. This woman showed a 20 percent increase in her memory test results as a result of intra-nasal insulin. There are people who show even more of a positive effect, with, according to the report, 75 percent of the participants having some effect. Intra-nasal insulin appears to open up passages in the brain in a way that lets neurons communicate. The graphics used on the show are impressive.


    After my July post on intra-nasal insulin treatment, one reader on commented that she had taken these study results to her doctor and he rejected the idea flat out. She was crush and I was frustrated.


    I'm excited that someone with the clout of Maria Shriver is pushing to get funding for more research and treatment for Alzheimer's. When we have a drug available, as we do in the case of intra-nasal insulin, why isn't every person with the disease given a chance to try it if they, or a loved one, chooses this option?  If they want the treatment, they could sign a waiver.


    It's true that the use of intra-nasal insulin for Alzheimer's disease needs more research. It's true that there may be unknown side effects of the drug, when used for this purpose. However, there are plenty of side effects attached to any other drug used to help those with Alzheimer's.


    I'm talking about giving people a choice. If I had Alzheimer's disease and was told this drug was available and could actually improve my memory, but that it could have possible negative effects down the road, I believe I'd say, "Give it to me. I'm more worried about not having any short-term memory down the road, than other problems. I'll take that chance."


    When it comes to experimental drugs that have passed enough tests to be used on humans, even in trials, I believe people should be able to give informed consent. We have millions of people suffering from the effects of Alzheimer's disease, which is also a family disease, since the decline of one person affects the rest of the clan. Shouldn't these people already suffering from a disease that can incapacitate them within a relatively short time have the right to say they want to try a drug that is already on the market? In my opinion, they should.


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    You can go online to ABC News to watch more of this remarkable report on Alzheimer's. Just type "Shriver Report" in the search box and get ready to click some links. There's good information there.


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Published On: October 23, 2010