Diabetes Drug Improves Memory
An FDA-approved drug initially used to treat insulin resistance in diabetics has shown promise as a way to improve cognitive performance in some people with Alzheimer's disease, according to a study done at University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and published online in the Journal of Neuroscience.
The researchers found that treatment with the anti-insulin-resistance drug rosiglitazone enhanced learning and memory as well as normalized insulin resistance. The scientists believe that the drug produced the response by reducing the negative influence of Alzheimer's on the behavior of a key brain-signaling molecule called extracellular signal-regulated kinase. ERK becomes hyperactive in the brains of Alzheimer's patients and this leads to improper synaptic transmission between neurons.
Rosiglitazone brings ERK back into line by activating what's known as the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARγ) pathway.
A release from the university quotes lead author Larry Denner as saying, "Using this drug appears to restore the neuronal signaling required for proper cognitive function. It gives us an opportunity to test several FDA-approved drugs to normalize insulin resistance in Alzheimer's patients and possibly also enhance memory, and it also gives us a remarkable tool to use in animal models to understand the molecular mechanisms that underlie cognitive issues in Alzheimer's."