Alzheimer's: Targeted Insulin as a Treatment

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Alzheimer’s Targeted Insulin as a treatment

The body uses insulin to communicate with the brain through receptors.

A new study from Université Laval opens the door to more potential treatments for Alzheimer's disease, which is linked to insulin resistance in the brain. The therapeutic arsenal for diabetes and other metabolic diseases could therefore help in the treatment of the neurocognitive disorder that affects 110,000 people in Quebec.

This is what Professor Frédéric hopes Calon, researcher at the CHU de Québec-Laval University Research Center.

“We're a bit stuck in Alzheimer's treatment. Meanwhile, in the field of diabetes and other metabolic diseases, there are a lot of drugs that exist. »

— Frédéric Calon, researcher at the CHU de Québec-Laval University Research Center

One ​​of the starting points of our study is that people who suffer from diabetes are […] between say 50 and 100% more likely to have alzheimer, adds the researcher.

According to the study, insulin resistance is caused by a loss of efficiency and a decrease in the receptors for this hormone in the microvessels of the brain.

A study on the links between insulin in the brain and Alzheimer's


A study on the links between insulin in the brain and Alzheimer's. 10-minute audio content, ICI Première show. Listen to the audio.

Normally, drugs designed specifically for the brain are needed, since they must be able to cross the blood-brain barrier. But since the insulin receptors are just before the obstacle, this opens the door to a wider range of drugs that could be sent into the blood.

In addition to treatments, the study provides some leads in the prevention of the disease. You have to act as soon as possible, especially in Alzheimer's disease, because the disease begins a good 10, 15 years, maybe even more, in the brain before you see the symptoms, underlines the Professor Calon, also a researcher at the Institute of Nutrition and Functional Foods at Laval University.

Frédéric Calon

It points to a sharing of risk factors between Alzheimer's and heart and metabolic disease. If we adopt better lifestyle habits earlier, in terms of diet, physical exercise. In addition, I will add intellectual exercise also for alzheimer. With all this, we can prevent diabetes, prevent cardiovascular problems, but at the same time perhaps prevent Alzheimer's disease.

Professor Calon s' is also interested in the effects of diet on disease, including omega-3s.

Whether insulin resistance in the brain is a cause or a consequence of the disease, Professor Calon thinks it's a bit of both, it's a vicious circle. Since the research team studied about 60 human brains donated by deceased people with Alzheimer's, they do not see the evolution of Alzheimer's. It's like taking a picture after death, says Professor Calon.

For the study, the Laval University team collaborated with a research group of Chicago, which began a study in 1993. The American team followed some 1,100 members of some thirty religious congregations established in the United States, who agreed to donate their brains upon their death. Tests on rodents have shown similar results.

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