A new study is to investigate whether the diabetes drug liraglutide can improve memory in people with early Alzheimer’s.
The research project, which is being partly funded by the Alzheimer’s Society charity, will see 200 patients with early stages of Alzheimers disease, split into two treatment groups. One will receive a daily injection of liraglutide (Victoza ) for 12 months and the other a placebo for the same duration.
Both groups of patients will also have scans and memory tests before and after the treatment.
The trial comes on the back of laboratory research indicating that liraglutide improves the growth of brain cells and the connections between them by reducing inflammation in the brain.
With no new drug therapies for Alzheimer’s since 2003, it is hoped the results of this new study will finally give patients a new form of treatment for tackling the debilitating form of dementia.
Lead researcher Dr Paul Ediso, of Imperial College London, which is one of two sites in London that will be recruiting patients for the trial, said: “New drugs can take decades to filter through and cost billions.
“Liraglutide is a tried and tested diabetes treatment, so we know it is safe. This trial will show within three years whether it can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s.”
Dr Doug Brow, Director of Research and Development at the Alzheimer’s Society, commented: “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.
“We are now funding a major new trial to bring it closer to a position where it can be improving the lives of people with dementia.”
Alzheimer’s disease is closely associated with type 2 diabetes, with research showing that diabetic patients over 60 are twice as likely to develop memory problems, than those without diabetes.
The results of a recent US study go one step further, by suggesting that Alzheimer’s and type 2 diabetes may actually be the same disease. The findings, published last week by Scientists from Albany University, New York State, showed that extra insulin produced by those with type 2 diabetes enters the brain, disrupts functions of important chemicals, and ultimately leads to the death of brain cells.

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