Pharmaceutical International News - November 2010
Diabetes Drug Metformin Could Treat Alzheimer's
Posted by Pharmaceutical International's Senior Correspondent on 23/11/2010 - 13:10:00
Popular diabetes drug Metformin could help Alzheimer’s patients, according to new medical research.
In a study, Scottish scientists from Dundee University describe how Metformin – which is sold under brand names including Obimet, Diabex, Dianben, Riomet and Diaformin – helps stops a major process that takes place in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s.
Welcoming the news, Alzheimer’s organisations have said, nonetheless, that additional studies are needed to firm up these initial findings.
Tau proteins, which are found deep in the central nervous system, normally act as control devices, but when they malfunction, dementias like Alzheimer’s can result. In tests involving mouse brain cells, the Scottish researchers found out that Metformin works on so-called ‘tangles’ of these proteins by activating a particular type of enzyme, and details of their work appear in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
New Alzheimer’s Drug
It is thought that more Metformin prescriptions are issued than for any other Type 2 diabetes drug treatment. Supplied as either a slow or fast-release drug, the pill only produces a small number of side effects.
Since it’s already approved for patient use, modifications to it would be relatively straightforward to achieve, raising hopes that Metformin could be converted into a new Alzheimer’s drug.
Generally speaking, drug regulators such as the US FDA only require brand new drugs to be put through the usual series of Phase I, II and III clinical tests.
Metformin: Alzheimer’s Treatment Drug
“Previous research has suggested that metformin reduces the risk of dementia in diabetic people, and this study provides some understanding of why this might be”, Alzheimer’s Society representative Doctor Anne Corbett said of the Metformin/Alzheimer’s treatment report.
She continued: “The fact that the drug is safe for humans means it could potentially be tested more quickly than a completely new drug. However, further research is needed to fully understand the link between diabetes and Alzheimer's.”
Earlier this month, a separate Metformin study put forward that the diabetes drug might be able to stop lung cancer progressing, too.
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