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Mouse study may provide clue for new Alzheimer's treatment

Although their goal was to find a cure for diabetes, scientists may have stumbled onto a potential new lead in the search for a medication to help treat the devastating effects of Alzheimer's disease, CBS Boston reports. The research in lab mice is a long way from being proven to work in humans, but the scientists touted what they call "very promising" findings.

According to a press release from researchers at Lancaster University, a new drug being tested for diabetes patients was found to have "significantly reversed memory loss" in mice and is now being examined as possible treatment for neurodegenerative disorders.

The medication, known as a triple receptor drug — or "triple agonist" — reportedly works in multiple ways to protect the brain against degeneration and promote growth. Researchers say that a study of mice being given the drug found that the animals had an increased ability to learn and retain memories.

"These very promising outcomes demonstrate the efficacy of these novel multiple receptor drugs that originally were developed to treat type 2 diabetes," Professor Christian Holscher said in the news release.

Morning Rounds: Understanding Alzheimer's

The scientists added that the mice showed a decrease in chronic inflammation and amyloid plaques in the brain, which have been linked to the development of Alzheimer's in people. However, it's important to note that the results of mouse studies often fail to translate into effective treatments for humans.

"With no new treatments in nearly 15 years, we need to find new ways of tackling Alzheimer's," Dr. Doug Brown of the Alzheimer's Society said. "It's imperative that we explore whether drugs developed to treat other conditions can benefit people with Alzheimer's."

The discovery of the diabetes drug's impact on mice's memory is not a complete coincidence to the researchers. The findings, published in the journal Brain Research, point to the link between some of the symptoms of diabetes and their link to Alzheimer's. Insulin desensitization is not only one of the key effects suffered by diabetes patients; the hormone's lack of production has also reportedly been observed in the brains of people affected by the memory-stealing disorder.

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