Diabetes drug shows promise

From ,Care and cure magazine - Autumn 2015 read about a diabetes drug (liraglutide) that was tested for dementia treatments.

A diabetes drug that is currently being tested to see if it could treat Alzheimer's disease might also be used to prevent it, according to a new study using mice.

Diabetes drugs have gained a lot of attention in recent years in attempts to treat Alzheimer's disease as research has shown the importance of the effects of insulin in the brain. In Alzheimer's, brain cells become less responsive to the presence of insulin, similar to pancreas cells in diabetes. 

The drug in this study, liraglutide, is already on the market for treating diabetes. Researchers at Imperial College London are recruiting 220 volunteers around the country to take part in a study of its effects in mild Alzheimer's disease.

This new study, led by Professor Christian Hölscher and funded by Alzheimer's Society, has shown that liraglutide may also show promise as a preventative treatment. The researchers studied mice with genetic mutations that made them certain to develop Alzheimer's disease. When the drug was given from a young age it prevented or reduced much of the damage normally seen in the condition as well as preserving memory recall. 

Liraglutide has recently been licensed as a weight-loss drug and demonstrated to be safe for people who are not diabetic. Hölscher is now investigating new drugs that may work even better than liraglutide, by acting in two ways to achieve the same effect.

Separately, researchers in Denmark presented results at a conference from a small clinical trial involving 38 people with moderate Alzheimer's disease. These suggest that liraglutide helps to prevent the decline in how glucose is metabolised in the brain, which is a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease. This raises hopes for the outcome of the larger trial taking place in the UK.