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Diabetes drug to treat Alzheimer's?

23rd November 2010

Researchers in Scotland have said the diabetes drug metformin could be used to treat Alzheimer's disease.

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Scientists from Dundee University have found that the drug aids the prevention of the build up of toxic proteins which are associated with the condition.

The drug, which is ingested as a pill, is part of a group of medications which aid in the regulation of blood sugar.

Many people with type 2 diabetes take the pill and it does not have many side effects. Metformin has been proved to be safe, so it could potentially be redeveloped quickly to treat dementia.

The team looked at brain cells taken from mice and saw that the drug had an effect on the "tau tangles" in the brain. These are toxic proteins which grow on the neurons of people with Alzheimer's disease.

Metaformin was found to trigger an enzyme which decreased the protein formation.

Rebecca Wood, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Research Trust, said: "The link between diabetes and dementia is well known, and these early results suggest a need for further investigation to see whether this drug has the potential to be developed as an Alzheimer's treatment."

"However, it is important to note that this study looked at cells from mice, not people. We need to see the results of pre-clinical and clinical trials before we'll know if the drug could have any benefits for people with Alzheimer's," she added.


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