For years, there has been a hypothesis that Alzheimer’s disease — an age-related neurodegenerative disorder that causes cognitive decline — is strongly related to glucose metabolism. In fact, some scientists have even gone so far as to speculate that Alzheimer’s is akin to “type 3 diabetes,” with the brain losing neurons because it can’t adequately use glucose as fuel.
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It seems that one big player in the drug industry is now taking this hypothesis seriously. Novo Nordisk, which manufactures and markets insulin and other diabetes drugs, is involved in a clinical trial of its type 2 diabetes drug Victoza (liraglutide) for people with Alzheimer’s, as noted in an article at BioSpace. The drug has already shown promise for Alzheimer’s in laboratory studies, so the current trial will involve actually evaluating its effectiveness in a larger group of people with the disease.
As the article notes, the trial at Imperial College London in England will enroll 204 people with mild Alzheimer’s dementia. Participants will be randomly assigned to take Victoza or a placebo (inactive pill) for 12 months, and researchers will measure glucose metabolism in their brain along with various markers of cognition.
Because smaller studies have shown that Alzheimer’s symptoms can change when people stop taking Victoza, all participants will be offered a 12-month extension of the drug after the main part of the trial is over. This also means that people who take a placebo for the first year will have an opportunity to take the actual drug, with researchers assessing any changes in their symptoms.
For more information on the new trial, visit its official page at Alzheimer’s Society (United Kingdom).