Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have found amylin, a hormone secreted by pancreas along with insulin, holds promise in treating Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimers disease is a form of dementia in which the brain begins to waste away. Alzheimer’s disease tends to develop later in life and is more commonly found in people with vascular conditions and notably diabetes.
Previous research has shown that people with Alzheimer’s disease have plaques in the brain of a specific type of protein called beta amyloid. The researchers set out to investigate whether taking the hormone amylin would have an effect on beta amyloid plaques in the brain and improve symptoms of dementia.
The researchers used injections of a synthetic form of amylin, pramlintide, on mice engineered to develop Alzheimer’s disease. The results of the study showed that the amylin injections removed amyloid beta out of the brain and into the blood and improved the mice’s ability to learn and memorise.
The researchers note that amylin analogues have an advantage over other drugs in that they can pass through the protective blood brain barrier and therefore get through to treats parts within the brain.
The amylin analogue used in the study, pramlintide, has been used in a number of countries, such as the United States, as a drug for people with diabetes. The trading name of pramlintide is Symlin. Whilst available in the States, the medication has not been approved for use on the NHS by NICE.
If larger human trials show the drug is effective at treating Alzheimer’s disease in humans, researchers say the treatment could be available within 3 to 5 years.

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