"These very promising outcomes demonstrate the efficacy of these novel multiple receptor drugs that originally were developed to treat type 2 diabetes but have shown consistent neuro-protective effects in several studies".
The study was conducted on APP/PS1 mice, which posses human mutated genes that cause Alzheimer's. Testing showed that mice given the drug not only suffered less from diabetes, but also experienced fewer problems with memory, resulting in dramatically improved maze test learning and memory formation.
The next step for the University of Lancashire researchers will have to prove the drug's effectiveness in increased doses, and confirm that it is safe for human clinical trials.
Lead researcher Professor Christian Holscher of Lancaster University in the United Kingdom said that the treatment "holds a clear promise of being developed into a new treatment for chronic neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease".
The study conducted by the United Kingdom and Chinese researchers showed that an experimental diabetes treatment has improved the memory and brain function in mice with symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. This drug was initially created to treat type 2 diabetes by activating GLP-1, GIP and Glucagon growth factor receptors in the brain.
Although the benefits of these drugs have only been found in mice so far, other studies with existing diabetes drugs such as "liraglutide" have shown real promise for people with Alzheimer's.
"With no new treatments in almost 15 years, we need to find new ways of tackling Alzheimer's", said Doug Brown from United Kingdom organisation, Alzheimer's Society.
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It used a drug which combines three "growth factors", GLP-1, GIP and Glucagon, which promote cell growth and division, according to the paper, published in the journal Brain Research.
The treatment is exciting for scientists because it works by protecting the brain cells attacked by Alzheimer's disease in three separate ways, rather than relying on a single approach.
The tests used genetically modified mice who had been given genes linked to an inheritable form of the brain disease. The animals were already exhibiting numerous symptoms associated with the disease, including compromised memory and difficulty learning, but showed dramatic improvement in their brain function after receiving the unique treatment.
Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia, affecting more than 400,000 Australians.
While not the first medication that's been rolled out as a potential treatment for Alzheimer's, it has special qualities which make it a particularly promising development. Since Type 2 diabetes impedes production of the hormone, it exposes an affected person to an array of neurodegenerative disorders, not only Alzheimer's.
After all, more than 5 million Americans are already living with Alzheimer's, and by 2050 that number could be as high as 16 million.