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An Experimental Drug for Obesity Shows Promise In Treating Alzheimer's-At Least In Mice 

An Experimental Drug for Obesity Shows Promise In Treating Alzheimer's-At Least In Mice 
From Gizmodo - January 2, 2018

The race to find a treatment for Alzheimers disease and other forms of dementia is littered with false starts, dead ends, and fiery crashes. That caveat aside, there has been some promising research indicating a class of drugs originally created to control diabetes and fight obesity could also help slow down the progression of Alzheimers. A new study in mice, published recently in Brain Research, now suggests we could supercharge this cognitive protective effect by using a drug that interacts with three hormones connected to diabetes.

The basic premise behind using diabetes drugs to treat Alzheimers is simple enough. We know having type-2 diabetes increases the risk of Alzheimers; we also know that people with Alzheimers have brain cells that cant use glucosethe primary source of fuel for all cellsas efficiently as typical cells. That same sort of dysfunction is at the heart of diabetes: Diabetics either produce less insulin or dont respond to it as strongly as they should, so they cant process glucose easily. By fixing the brains glucose problem in people with Alzheimers, its hoped, we can delay its progression.

The drug used in the study is already in development as a potent treatment for both diabetes and obesity, with encouraging if early results. It works by binding to the receptors for the hormones glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP), and glucagon, allowing the bodys cells to take in more of each. The first two hormones help the body stimulate the production of insulin and amplify its effects, which keeps our blood sugar level from getting too high, while glucagon acts as a counter-weight to insulin, and is released when blood sugar is too low. By combining all three effects at once, the drug has been shown in the lab to help obese and diabetic mice balance their blood sugar levels, maintain a healthy metabolism, and lose weight better than existing medications that only work on one or two receptors.

The current study is the first to test whether this drug could also help prevent or even repair the corrosive brain damage inflicted by Alzheimers. The researchers used mice genetically bred to have many of the aspects of Alzheimersmemory loss, chronic brain inflammation, and the tell-tale build-up of amyloid plaques that wedge in-between and seem to damage nerve cells. They injected the mice with the drug every day for two months. When compared to a control group, the dosed mice had less inflammation, less plaques, and even improved neuron growth. More visually apparent, the mice also performed better on maze tests, suggesting the drug had stopped and even reversed their memory loss.

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