12/13/2012 02:00 pm ET

Is Diabetes Treatment Capable Of Curing Memory Loss In Alzheimer's Patients?

A diabetes drug that never made it to the market could possibly restore memory for those affected by Alzheimer's, a new study found.

How is diabetes treatment a potential cure for Alzheimers' disease? Researchers in Canada found that a diabetes drug known as AC253 brought animal brain cells altered by Alzheimers' back to relatively normal levels. Researchers attributed this to the drug's ability to block amyloid, a protein regularly found in the cells of Alzheimers's victims. The high presence of amyloid in these cells is what is believed to cause Alzheimer's.

"Drugs like this might be able to restore memory, even after Alzheimer's disease may have set in," said study leader Jack Jhamandas of the University of Alberta.

To determine the drug's capacity to treat memory loss, the researchers extracted normal and Alzheimer's riddled brain cells from mice and administered an electric shock memory test to the cells. After being treated with AC253, the Alzheimer's cells returned to levels similar to the normal mice cells, according to a statement.

But is diabetes drug AC253 a panacea for Alzheimer's? Far from it. The study notes that the drug has difficultly crossing the blood-brain barrier, keeping the amyloid blocker from getting to the brain. Pharmaceutical researchers would have to find a way to create a drug that could cross that barrier.

Trials could begin in five years, barring any other difficulties exposed during testing, Jhamandas said in a statement. The team is also running tests to determine if taking AC253 before symptoms emerge could "stop the impairment of behaviour and cognition altogether in animals destined to develop Alzheimer's."



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