Diabetes drug shows promise for treating Alzheimer’s
A new study has led to a drug entering the clinical trial phase as potential treatment to treat symptoms of late-stage Alzheimer’s disease. The drug, liraglutide, is commonly prescribed for people with diabetes to stimulate insulin production.
The new study, published in the journal Neuropharmacology, found that the drug shows promise for treating Alzheimer patients, including the ability to reverse memory loss, prevent toxic plaque build-up on the brain and protect brain cells.
In the study, researchers from Lancaster University in the U.K. tested liraglutide on 14 month-old mice with late-stage Alzheimer’s over a two-month period. They found that the mice, after being injected with the drug, significantly improved upon object recognition tests, and the build-up of toxic plaque in their brains decreased by about 30 percent.
Researchers explained that liraglutide works to reduce oxidative stress, improve growth and replacement of neurons and help the brain cope with stress and toxic influences that contribute to Alzheimer’s.
The drug is now undergoing its first clinical trial in patients with Alzheimer’s, led by Dr. Paul Edison of Imperial College London. The trial will test how Alzheimer’s patients progress when compared to a control group that receives a placebo. Researchers said they hope the trial will give them the first impression of how effective liraglutide is in humans, as opposed to mice.
If the drug works in humans the same way it works in mouse models of Alzheimer’s, this will be the first treatment for human patients that protects “neuronal function and activity, memory and synaptic numbers, while reducing amyloid plaques and the inflammation response in the brain,” researchers said, in which case the use of liraglutide to treat Alzheimer’s would be a landmark discovery.