Both diabetes and Alzheimer’s are diagnosis we all fear. These diseases limit our abilities to enjoy life and, in the worst cases, are life-threatening. But new research regarding both is providing hope.
Researchers from the United Kingdom and China have discovered that a new drug meant to treat type 2 diabetes might aid in protecting the brain from damage caused by Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s Disease is responsible for 50–75 percent of cases of dementia, a state in which people increasingly lose the ability to think, remember, make simple decisions, hold conversations, and tend to themselves. Today, Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, with 5 million people diagnosed. This diagnosis is projected to rise to 16 million by 2050.
But Dr. Christian Hölscher, a professor in the Faculty of Health & Medicine at Lancaster University in the UK and study leader, says the new drug “holds clear promise of being developed into a new treatment for chronic neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.”
The drug tested in the new study is a “triple receptor agonist” that engages proteins that facilitate signals from three growth factors – glucagon-like peptide-1, glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide, and glucagon – to enter cells. Problems with growth factor signaling have been detected in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s.
The study piloted by Dr. Hölscher is the first to suggest that a triple receptor agonist aids in protecting the brain from the progressive brain damage that occurs in Alzheimer’s Disease.
Laboratory mice treated with the triple receptor agonist presented with higher rates of new nerve cell generation and cell-to-cell connections. Additionally, results showed increased levels of a growth factor called “brain-derived neurotrophic factor.” This factor protects nerve cells.
“These very promising outcomes demonstrate the efficacy of these novel multiple-receptor drugs that originally were developed to treat type 2 diabetes but have shown consistent neuroprotective effects in several studies,” Prof. Hölscher said.
While further research is needed regarding this triple receptor agonist, so far, the outlook is very promising.
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