Common type 2 diabetes drugs may have the potential to counter Alzheimer’s disease, according to new research.
The study, which was performed on laboratory mice with Alzheimer’s disease and published in Neuropharmacology, found that the diabetes drugs lixisenatide and liraglutide prevent the degeneration of nerve cells in the brain.
The beneficial effects of the tests were more pronounced than any current treatment for Alzheimer’s . The researchers suggested that because these drugs are already licensed for use on diabetes patients, it would not take long to test them on people with dementia.
Professor Christian Holscher of Lancaster University, said: “These are very exciting results. There are no drugs on the market for Alzheimer’s disease that actually treat the disease, all we currently have are two types of drugs that mask the symptoms for a while. Lixisenatide and liraglutide offer a real improvement by treating the basis of the disease and, therefore, preventing degeneration.”
The study will be progress to include a clinical trial of liraglutide in people with early-stage Alzheimer’s. It is funded by the Alzheimer’s society.
For diabetes patients, liraglutide works in three ways. It increases insulin levels in the body, which reduces blood sugar, then reduces the amount of glucagon produced by the pancreas. Glucagon makes the liver produce more sugar, so reducing glucagon levels reduces blood sugar levels. Finally, liraglutide slows the rate at which food passes through the stomach, which causes the sugar from meals to take longer to get into the blood. It is administered using an injection.

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