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Photo Credit: Mbbradford
Photo Credit: Mbbradford

New Study Shows Potential Alzheimer’s Treatment Using Insulin

Dementia or a condition where the patient suffers corrosion of memory, thought process, conduct, and the capability to carry out daily chores, as explained by the World Health Organization (WHO), is one of the growing concerns of the medical world.

Offering some hope, a new study has shown that insulin might bear potential to treat dementia, which is most usually triggered by Alzheimer’s disease.

A research team comprising of scientists from the University of Washington, Veteran’s Administration Puget Sound and Saint Louis University has revealed that insulin if right through the nasal cavity on the latter’s upper region, reaches to the tampered parts of brain, providing prolonged impacts in enhancing memory.

For the study, the research team took a mouse sample that was created in the early 1990s. It reflects normal behavior when young, but by the middle age of 8 to 12 months, that is the middle age for mouse, it shows acute learning and memory issues. In the test, where the mouse had to recognize an object, the aim was to check the mouse’s natural urge to know novel things. Old mice did not remember if the items they were given to play with were new or old. Nevertheless, after one dose of intranasal insulin, they could remember which items they saw earlier.


William A. Banks is a University of Washington professor of internal medicine and geriatrics, VA Puget Sound physician and the principal investigator of the study. Photo Credit: William A. Banks

William Banks who is associated both with University of Washington and VA Puget Sound and also the chief investigator of the study said that prior to their research, the mechanism behind insulin entering the brain and its destination had insufficient proof. “We showed that insulin goes to areas where we hoped it would go,” he added.

Scientists said that there are approximately 800 clinical trials that are being performed by National Institutes of Health (NIH) on Alzheimer’s disease, but only some to consider insulin and other gastrointestinal hormones to check their influence on cognition. Banks informed that nearly 100 intranasal complexes are present that could be examined for the treatment of dementia.

Dr. John Morley who headed the research team at St. Louis University told CBS Radio that this internasal methodology permits insulin to be consumed right away by the brain and circulated to those regions, which contains a great effect on memory.

The research team discovered that insulin when given intra-nasally doesn’t travel directly into the bloodstream, which remained a big concern for the medical world due to its degrading effect on the blood sugar levels. Furthermore, repetitive doses of insulin helped enhance memory.

Talking about the likelihood of their finding becoming one of the groundbreaking ones in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, Banks pointed out the case of HIV/AIDS and the Alzheimer’s disease, which arrived almost at the same time in the 1980s but   10 times more amount of money has been spent on HIV/AIDS as compared to Alzheimer’s disease.

Banks added that if equal resources are spent on Alzheimer’s disease, it could have yielded more “effective” results. The Alzheimer’s disease and other kinds of dementia approximately affect 47 million people across the globe, and with the anxiety of the aging population, the number is believed to witness a two-fold increase by 2030, said the study which was published in the “Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease”.

Earlier this year, in January 2015, a preliminary study conducted by scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center discovered that a human-created type of insulin supplied by nasal spray may help in the betterment of working memory and other mental disabilities in adults such as Alzheimer’s disease.

For this research, the team recruited 60 adults who were diagnosed with amnesic mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or mild to moderate Alzheimer’s dementia (AD). The individuals who obtained nasally-controlled 40 international unit (IU) doses of insulin detemir for straight 21 days, reflected noticeable progress in their long-term capability to capture and comprehend both visual and verbal facts than those individuals who obtained 20 IU doses or a placebo.

According to the World Health Organization, 47.5 million persons suffer from dementia across the globe with 7.7 million new cases coming up each year.

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