Inhaled Insulin Eyed As a Dementia Treatment

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Insulin delivered through the nasal cavity may improve memory in those suffering from dementia.

William Banks, MD a professor of internal medicine and geriatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine and a physician at the Veteran’s Administration Puget Sound Medical Center, and colleagues made the discovery based on a mouse model.

In an object recognition test, which  depends  a mouse's natural curiosity for new things, old mice do not remember whether objects they are presented to play with are new or old. But, after a single dose of intranasal insulin, they can remember which objects they have seen before, the researchers reported in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Although hundreds of trials are being conducted on Alzheimer’s, few are looking at insulin and how it affects cognition. Banks said there are probably 100 intranasal compounds that could be tested for treating Alzheimer’s.

“Before this study, there was very little evidence of how insulin gets into the brain and where it goes,” Banks said in a statement. “We showed that insulin goes to areas where we hoped it would go.”

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In mouse model, older mice with memory problems were able to recognize objects they had seen before after single dose of inhaled insulin.

Researchers at the UW Medicine, Veteran's Administration Puget Sound and Saint Louis University have made a promising discovery that insulin delivered high up in the nasal cavity goes to affected areas of brain with lasting results in improving memory.

The findings were published online July 30 in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

Importantly, researchers also found that insulin does not go into the bloodstream when delivered intranasally, a major concern in the medical community because it would lower blood sugar levels. Additionally, repeated doses increased insulin's efficacy in aiding memory.

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