Alzheimers drug could help prevent type 2 diabetes

Jack Woodfield
Fri, 21 Jul 2017
Alzheimers drug could help prevent type 2 diabetes
A drug commonly used to treat Alzheimer's disease could help prevent type 2 diabetes and heart disease, a study suggests.

Researchers say they have found galantamine can cut inflammation, which is a hallmark of metabolic syndrome, by more than 25 per cent.

This could potentially have positive effects on those at risk of or who already have type 2 diabetes because inflammation plays a key role in metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is the name given to a cluster of conditions, such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and high cholesterol which are associated with a high risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Previous studies have shown that galantamine, which is derived synthetically from flowers and helps to inhibit the progression of Alzheimer's disease, reduced inflammation levels in obese mice. Consequently the research team decided to study the effect of galantamine in people with metabolic syndrome.

During the study the 60 participants were split evenly into two groups, where one group was given the drug and the other received a placebo. During the 12-week trial insulin levels, insulin resistance, heart rate, weight, and cholesterol levels were all measured.

By the end of the research period, those who had been given the drug had significantly lower inflammatory markers, insulin levels and insulin resistance. However, there were no significant changes to fat, weight and cholesterol measurements between the groups.

One of the lead authors, associate professor Valentin Pavlov from the Northwell Health’s Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, said: "It's been very tough to come up with a treatment that targets all the components of metabolic syndrome, which is becoming a pandemic because it stems from obesity."

Study co-author Dr Yael Tobi Harris, chief of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at North Shore University Hospital and Long Island Jewish Medical Center, added: "Galantamine can target the entire syndrome as well as targeting components of the syndrome.

"Using an existing drug is a much faster way of getting a treatment out there. It's promising, it makes me optimistic, and it's a starting point indicating an avenue of research that should be pursued further.

"What galantamine does is activate the nervous system to decrease inflammation. Because the inflammation is causing insulin resistance… we then see a decrease in insulin resistance."

The team now plans to carry out more work on the drug to see to explore further the potential the drug could have on other chronic health problems.

The study was published in JCI Insight.
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