A commonly used diabetes drug has been found to improve the mental functions of some Alzheimer's disease patients and may offer a promising new way to blunt the symptoms of the brain-wasting disease.
Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston who treated genetically engineered mice with the anti-insulin-resistance drug rosiglitazone found it enhanced their learning and memory. Although the work involved laboratory animals, the scientists believe that the drug would also prove effective in human beings, as well.
"Using this drug appears to restore the neuronal signaling required for proper cognitive function," said lead researcher Larry Denner, who described the team’s working in a study published online in the Journal of Neuroscience.
"It gives us an opportunity to test several [Food and Drug Administation]-approved drugs to normalize insulin resistance in Alzheimer's patients and possibly also enhance memory, and it also gives us a remarkable tool to use in animal models to understand the molecular mechanisms that underlie cognitive issues in Alzheimer's."
Denner said the research team and other investigators across the world will now begin clinical trials to investigate the value of therapies for insulin resistance in early-stage Alzheimer's disease in humans.
The study was funded, in part, by the National Institutes of Health.