On the Brain


Insulin may hold key to ‘diabetes of the brain’

Published Thursday, Aug. 23 2012

It was a small study, a strange one too, if you came to it cold – 109 people in the early throes of Alzheimer’s disease squirted insulin up their noses for four months.

University of Washington researchers who presented it at an international Alzheimer’s conference held this summer in Honolulu found the results promising: People treated with the insulin-based nasal spray showed memory improvements, and no signs of serious side-effects.

Yet it wasn’t the result that grabbed headlines so much as the question it raised: Insulin – the sugar-busting hormone, the hallowed Canadian discovery and saviour of diabetics – for Alzheimer’s?

Quite possibly, yes. A growing branch of research suggests that Alzheimer’s disease is akin to diabetes of the brain and therapies for one disorder may be useful for both.

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