Diabetes drug 'could improve memory'

21 November 2012

A drug commonly prescribed for diabetes also improves memory, scientists have discovered.

Research published in the Journal of Neuroscience found that the FDA-approved drug, which is usually used to treat insulin resistance in people with diabetes, could improve cognitive performance in some people with Alzheimer's disease.

It is believed that the drug improves learning and memory as it reduces the negative influence of Alzheimer's on the behaviour of an important brain-signalling molecule.

This molecule, which is known as extracellular signal-related kinase (ERK), becomes hyperactive in both the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease and in mice in an animal model of mild cognitive impairment.

Excessive activity by ERK leads to improper synaptic transmission between neurons, which impacts on learning and memory, according to the research, which was published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

The medication, called Rosiglitazone, activates the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARγ) pathway, which interacts with genes that respond to both PPARy and the molecule.

Lead author professor Larry Denner said: "Using this drug appears to restore the neuronal signaling required for proper cognitive function.

"It gives us an opportunity to test several FDA-approved drugs to normalize insulin resistance in Alzheimer's patients and possibly also enhance memory, and it also gives us a remarkable tool to use in animal models to understand the molecular mechanisms that underlie cognitive issues in Alzheimer's."

Posted by Philip Briggs
 

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