The drugs used to treat diabetes could also be used to treat Alzheimer's, and vice versa, if the results of new research from the University of Aberdeen in the UK are confirmed.
UK – The study shows that Alzheimer’s disease and type 2 diabetes are linked so closely that the drugs used to control glucose levels in the latter could also relieve symptoms and progression of the first.
The research, published in the journal Diabetologia, first found that complications related to dementia in the brain can also lead to changes in glucose management and finally diabetes. This goes against what was previously thought that diabetes starts with a malfunction of the pancreas or a diet high in fat or sugar.
The research was led by Professor Bettina Platt, who orchestrated a unique collaboration between the research team and Alzheimer’s Disease research team led by diabetes specialist Professor Mirela Delibegovic. The teams investigated why the two diseases are so often common in older patients.
The researchers developed a model of Alzheimer’s disease and were surprised to find that high levels of a gene involved in the production of toxic proteins in the brain not only led to symptoms similar to those of Alzheimer’s disease, but also to the development of diabetic complications.
As noted by Platt, many people do not know the relationship between diabetes and Alzheimer’s, but the reality is that about 80% of people with Alzheimer’s disease also have some form of diabetes or impaired glucose metabolism. This is very revealing, since in most cases Alzheimer’s disease is not inherited, and therefore the fault of its appearance must have factors related to lifestyle and comorbidities.
This study provides a possible new therapeutic approach to Alzheimer’s disease, although no one should start this form hoping to improve health because it entails serious risks and only further research and due clinical trials may validate the findings of the new research and establishes appropriate treatment protocols.
Even with reservations, it seems reasonable to assume that some of the compounds used to treat the symptoms of diabetes could potentially also be beneficial for patients with Alzheimer’s. In fact, the Platt team is already testing a number of new drugs available now, in order to check whether they are able to reverse the symptoms of both Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes. They also plan to study whether new treatments developed for Alzheimer’s disease can improve symptoms of diabetes in addition to cognitive functions.