Insulin spray to treat ‘diabetes of the brain’

Last Updated: Friday, September 24, 2010 - 00:00

New studies are showing that insulin could play a key role in treating ` diabetes of the brain`.

Many experts have held Alzheimer`s disease akin to diabetes of the brain. The theory is that the aging brain also can develop insulin resistance or suffer from a dwindling insulin supply, damaging neurons and contributing to the widespread destruction of mind.

"It was about 30 years ago that Suzanne de la Monte at Brown introduced the idea of Alzheimer`s being diabetes of the brain ... Now, it`s coming back," the Globe and Mail quoted Howard Chertkow at McGill University, as saying.

Dr. de la Monte injected rats with an antibiotic that happens to block insulin, to give the animals "diabetes of the brain." But the post mortems revealed that the rats` brains were riddled with dead cells, plaques and tangled nerve fibres – a sign of Alzheimer`s.

But not all Alzheimer`s patients are diabetic, and Dr. de la Monte believes insulin resistance in the brain can develop regardless of whether a person has diabetes.

Patrick McGeer emeritus at the University of British Columbia also found similarities between conditions of diabetes and AD, but he is not convinced that insulin drives the disease.

At the moment, she is trying the experiment that was reported in Hawaii, by having Alzheimer`s patients at Brown inhale insulin.

"I don`t think the nasal spray is the answer but if the concept gets legs, that`s when the creativity kicks in," she said.


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First Published: Friday, September 24, 2010 - 00:00

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