[This abstract first appeared in: Dementia: the Latest Evidence Newsletter (RWHT) Volume 1 Issue 5 December 2010].
The diabetes drug metformin could be further developed as a new treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease. This drug helps prevent the formation of a key brain abnormality linked to the disease.
Metformin belongs to the biguanides class of drugs. It helps regulate blood sugar levels, and is widely used by people with Type 2 diabetes. This drug already has a proven safety record for elderly people, so it could be relatively easy to turn it into an Alzheimer’s treatment.
Experiments on mouse brain cells have shown that metformin affects the “tau tangles” (filaments of toxic protein) which accumulate in Alzheimer’s sufferers. Metformin activates a natural enzyme which reduces tau tangle formation.
Note: This study is based on studies of mice, not people, so further research will be needed before the drug can be shown to be of benefit to people with Alzheimer’s Disease.
“The link between diabetes and dementia is well-known, and these early results suggest a need for further investigation to see whether this drug has the potential to be developed as an Alzheimer’s treatment”.
Diabetes drug Alzheimer’s hope. BBC News, November 22nd 2010.
Kickstein, E. Krauss, S. Thornhill, P. [et al] (2010). Biguanide metformin acts on tau phosphorylation via mTOR/protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) signaling. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, (PNAS), [Epub. ahead of print].