Friday, September 16, 2011

Insulin spray slows Alzheimer's disease

Using a nasal insulin spray twice a day may slow and even reverse the symptoms of memory loss in patients with early Alzheimer's disease.

During a four months study, researchers tested the effectiveness of using insulin spray for people without diabetes who had been diagnosed with mild memory problems related to Alzheimer's disease or with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI).

Participants were divided into three groups either receiving 20 milligrams of insulin twice a day, 40 mg twice a day or a saline solution as a placebo.

Findings showed those who received 20 mg of insulin improved performance on a memory test after two months. Improvements persisted after four months and were still observable some time after the insulin treatment stopped.

Patients on higher doses of insulin had no change in their memory status, while those who got the placebo showed a decline.

The differences between those on insulin and those on the placebo were "small in absolute terms" but they were robust enough, authors wrote in the Archives of Neurology.

"Our results suggest that the administration of intranasal insulin may have a therapeutic benefit for adults with aMCI or Alzheimer's disease," wrote Suzanne Craft of the Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System and the University of Washington School of Medicine.

"The results of our pilot trial demonstrate that the administration of intranasal insulin stabilized or improved cognition, function and cerebral glucose metabolism for adults with aMCI or AD [Alzheimer's disease]," the researcher added.

According to the report, "these results provide an impetus for future clinical trials of intranasal insulin therapy and for further mechanistic studies of insulin's role in the pathogenesis of AD."

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