A Diabetes Drug Has Been Shown to Improve Memory Loss in Mice

With 2017 behind us, it is exciting to think about the year ahead.

What discoveries will we make — and how will advancing research influence dementia and Alzheimer’s patients?

According to a recent study, there is hope. A type 2 diabetes drug was shown to significantly reverse memory loss in mice. Could this be a breakthrough within Alzheimer’s research?

Study Finds — Diabetes Drug Improves Alzheimer’s in Mice

As published in Brain Research, this recent study was funded in part by the Alzheimer’s Society. Since there has been no new, innovative treatments for 15+ years, this research is both exciting and promising.

Focusing on growth factors, this drug has been shown to protect the brain against degeneration. Combining GLP-1, GIP and Glucagon, this drug may help overcome growth factor signalling depletion — a key factor in the development of dementia.

An older version of this drug was studied in the past, showing positive results in regards to Alzheimer’s and mood disorders. When studied more recently, it was shown to:

  • Increase brain factor growth
  • Reduce amyloid plaque levels
  • Reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the hippocampus
  • Slow down the rate of nerve cell loss

The researchers concluded that triple receptor agonists are promising when designing potential future treatment strategies.

Diabetes and Alzheimer’s Research

It is well understood that type 2 diabetes is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. This is why Alzheimer’s researchers are so interested in the prognosis of diabetes — as well as available treatment methods.

In December 2017, professors from the United States and Japan won an award for their research regarding type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s. They were announced as the winners of the 2018 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, based on their research on the unfolded protein response.

Their finding has helped scientists and researchers learn more not only about type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s, but also cancer. In Alzheimer’s, when there are too many unfolded proteins in the brain, cell death occurs. Over time, this results in memory loss.

As stated by the Chancellor of UC San Francisco, “This is an example of how decoding the basic principles of life can fundamentally improve our understanding of human health.”

Within another key study, published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia, it was found that high concentrations of glucose in brain tissue can result from abnormal glucose metabolism. As expressed by the director of behavioral neurology at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburg, “The same things that are bad for the heart are bad for the brain.”

This is why preventative measures are so imperative. Once there is damage to the brain, it is much harder to gain back function.

Reducing Your Risk of Alzheimer’s By Preventing Type 2 Diabetes

Alzheimer’s is often referred to as ‘type 3 diabetes’ — based on chronic insulin resistance in the brain. The link between diabetes and Alzheimer’s continues to grow stronger. Considering more than 1 out of 3 American adults is living with prediabetes, increased awareness is critical.

In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 90 percent of those with prediabetes, do not know that they are living with higher than normal blood sugar levels.

The good news?

Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable.

As stated by Harvard School of Public Health, approximately 9 out of 10 cases is avoidable. By addressing one’s weight, level of physical activity, diet, and smoking habits, this life-changing disease could be prevented.

Tips to Reduce Your Risk

When it comes to the onset of diabetes, although your genes can influence your risk, they tend to take a back seat in comparison to lifestyle and behavioral factors. In order to actively protect yourself, here are some simple, effective steps to implement into your current routine.

  • Manage your weight — Obesity is the most important factor in regards to the cause of type 2 diabetes. In comparison to someone that maintains a healthy weight, obese individuals increase their risk by 20 to 40 times. Losing between 7 to 10 percent of your current weight could cut your risk of developing type 2 diabetes in half.
  • Get moving — Regular exercise is not only important for weight loss, but working your muscles can actually improve your body’s ability to absorb glucose. In addition, regular physical activity supports heart health, which in turn, supports neural health.
  • Alter your diet — Consuming a balanced diet is imperative. Cut out refined carbohydrates and consume more whole grains, low-glycemic fruits, and vegetables. The key is to reduce spikes in blood sugar and insulin. You should also consume more healthy fats, avoiding fast food, packaged baked goods, margarine’s, and other foods made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.
  • Drink more water and tea — Within the Nurses’ Health Study II, it was found that women who drank one or more sugar-sweetened drinks daily, showcased an 83 percent higher risk of type 2 diabetes, in comparison to women who drank less than one of these beverages a month. Water is, of course, an excellent replacement — but so are herbal teas. Within one study, regular tea consumption was also shown to lower risk of neurocognitive decline.
  • Quit smoking — In comparison to nonsmokers, smokers are approximately 50 percent more likely to develop diabetes. This risk increases for heavy smokers.

Bottom line: In order to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes and in turn, Alzheimer’s, you need to remain lean and active. 


Krista Hillis has a B.A.Sc degree, specializing in neuroscience and psychology. She is actively involved in the mental health and caregiving community, aiming to help others. Krista is also passionate about nutrition and the ways in which lifestyle choices affect and influence the human brain.

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