Encouraging news on Alzheimer’s. There’s a new study, small yet convincing, led by a Department of Veterans Affairs team that suggests a nasal insulin spray might be able to help those with mild memory problems improve their symptoms of alzheimer’s.
However, even the study authors believe much more research is needed before doctors will be able to say for sure that such a product would help patients. But we do know that insulin in the brain works differently than it does in the rest of the body, so there may be more to the connection than insulin’s role in glucose uptake.
We also know that there is currently no way to delay or prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Earlier research has suggested an association between Alzheimer’s disease and conditions like obesity and type 2 diabetes. This latest work supports the links between troubles with insulin signaling in the brain and cognitive decline according to researcher Dr. James E. Galvin, a professor of neurology/psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center.
For the current study, Seattle researchers recruited 104 adults who had mild memory problems from either Alzheimer’s disease of another condition known as amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI).
The participants were divided into three groups, 36 subjects who got 40 IU (international units) of insulin per day, another 38 subjects who got 20 IUs of insulin daily and the final 30 participants who took a saline filled placebo. The insulin was delivered through a nasal spray.
The team looked at insulin effects on thinking, everyday functioning and glucose metabolism in the brain. At the end of the study, those who took 20 IUs a day showed improved ability to recall a story, better ability to remember details right afterward and again after a brief lapse in time. Those taking the higher dose, and those taking the placebo showed no improvement in story recall.
Also, those were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and received either of the two doses of insulin had preserved mental function compared with Alzheimer’s patients who were taking the placebo. The placebo takers showed some small declines overall.
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Could This Spray Improve Alzheimer’s Symptoms..? Continued…
And then, there’s this. The results of a standard dementia test the subjects took before and after the study showed no decline for either insulin group compared to those taking the placebo.
In the initial stages, Alzheimer’s disease brings trouble thinking, with memory loss and language difficulties. Insulin problems are thought to play a part in these symptoms. And while the biggest risk of Alzheimer’s is getting older, this is not a disease of old age. Patients generally live an average of 8 years after their symptoms have been noticed by those around them, but can live as long as 20 years, depending on age and other health conditions.
While much more research into the symptoms of alzheimer’s is needed, the findings are promising and may lead to new ways to treat all forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s. While medical science can’t stop these diseases from progressing, there are treatments that can temporarily slow down symptoms and improve the quality of life for patients and their families.