Diabetes drug found to slow down Alzheimer's disease

Diabetes drug found to slow down Alzheimer's disease

A drug given to people with diabetes has been found to help slow down the progression of Alzheimer's disease.

Researchers at Lancaster University found that liraglutide, substance which helps to produce insulin, can be used to reverse memory loss and treat people with the cognitive condition.

Tests conducted on Mice with Alzheimer's found they performed better in objects recognition assessments when given the drug. They were also found to have a 30 per cent reduction in toxic plaques in their brains.

The theory will be tested further when patients take part in a major clinical trial using liraglutide at the Imperial College London later this year.

Dr Doug Brown, director of research and development at the Alzheimer's Society, said the discovery of an existing drug that can be used to treat dementia is "incredibly exciting" and will help to bring new treatments closer.

"This exciting study suggests that one of these drugs can reverse the biological causes of Alzheimer’s even in the late stages and demonstrates we’re on the right track," he stated.

"We’re now funding a major new trial to bring it closer to a position where it can be improving the lives of people with dementia."

However, he added that it can take up to 20 years to develop suitable drugs and can cost hundreds of millions of pounds.

At present, around 800,000 people are living with some form of dementia in the UK, but that figure is expected to rise above the one million mark by 2021. More than half of dementia sufferers have Alzheimer's disease.

Scientists at the Yale School of Medicine in the US recently announced that they had discovered a protein called mGluR5 which plays a key role in the progression of Alzheimer's. 

Tests, which were also conducted on mice, found that by using an unnamed drug that is currently in development, this progression could be slowed down and even stopped.

However, the Alzheimer's Society warned that the study should not be seen as conclusive until the results are replicated in human subjects.

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