Friday, June 24, 2016
Scientists discover strong link between diabetes and Alzheimer's: Drugs used to control glucose levels may halt progression of dementia
Image Source: MEDICALNEWSTODAY
Scientists have found the two conditions are strongly linked, raising the possibility of shared drug responses.
Medicines currently used to control glucose levels in diabetes may also alleviate the symptoms and progression of Alzheimer’s, the team claims.
Doctors have known for some time that diabetes may increase the risk of dementia, a trend thought until now to be because unhealthy circulation affects the blood flow to the brain.
But the new study suggests for the first time the link may also go the other way - and that Alzheimer’s may increase the risk of diabetes as well.
Scientists found dementia-related effects in the brain can lead to changes in the body’s handling of glucose, and ultimately to diabetes.
The finding may lead to a ‘new therapeutic angle’ in the race to find a first truly effective treatment for Alzheimer’s, the researchers said.
The team - from the University of Aberdeen - investigated why the two conditions are so often found together in elderly patients.
Studying Alzheimer’s disease in mice, they found increased activity of a gene involved in the production of toxic brain proteins was also linked to diabetic complications.
Lead scientist Professor Bettina Platt said: ‘Many people are unaware of the relationship between diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, but the fact is that around 80 per cent of people with Alzheimer’s disease also have some form of diabetes or disturbed glucose metabolism.
‘This is hugely relevant as Alzheimer’s is in the vast majority of cases not inherited, and lifestyle factors and [co-existing conditions] must therefore be to blame.
‘Our research teams are particularly interested in the impact of lifestyle related factors in dementia and by collaborating with experts in diabetes and metabolism, we have been able to investigate the nature of the link in great detail.
‘Until now, we always assumed that obese people get Type 2 diabetes and then are more likely to get dementia. We now show that actually it also works the other way around.’
The findings were published in the journal Diabetologia.
Professor Platt added: ‘We now think that some of the compounds that are used for obesity and diabetic deregulation might potentially be beneficial for Alzheimer’s patients as well.
‘The good news is that there are a number of new drugs available right now which we are testing to see if they would reverse both Alzheimer’s and diabetes symptoms.
‘We will also be able to study whether new treatments developed for Alzheimer’s can improve both, the diabetic and cognitive symptoms.’
Dr Rosa Sancho, head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: ‘Scientists have known for some time that people with diabetes have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s, and research is currently underway to better understand how diabetes might be triggering Alzheimer’s changes in the brain.
‘This study suggests that the link between these two diseases could also be working in the other direction, with aspects of Alzheimer’s leading to complications associated with diabetes.
‘Clinical trials are currently underway to determine whether medications for diabetes could benefit people with Alzheimer’s and a better understanding of this link is crucial as researchers seek to find new ways of tackling both diseases.
‘Current evidence suggests that not smoking, keeping blood pressure and cholesterol in check, eating a balanced diet, drinking in moderation and staying mentally and physically active call all help to maintain brain health as we age.’
Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by DAILYMAIL
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