November 26, 2012

Monday, November 26, 2012
Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston revealed that an FDA-approved medication called rosiglitazone that is used to treat insulin resistance in diabetics also enhances learning and memory. This discovery could improve cognitive performance for those with Alzheimer’s disease.

By studying genetically engineered mice designed to serve as models for Alzheimer's, “the scientists believe that the drug produced the response by reducing the negative influence of Alzheimer's on the behavior of a key brain-signaling molecule.”

The molecule in question is called extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK). In the brains of Alzheimer's patients as well as the mice in the study, this molecule becomes hyperactive, which leads to improper synaptic transmission between neurons thereby interfering with learning and memory.

“Rosiglitazone brings ERK back into line by activating what's known as the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARγ) pathway, which interacts with genes that respond to both PPARγ and ERK.”

Basically, the medication helps to restore signals between neurons so that cognitive functions become more normal. This research opens a gateway allowing researchers to test more FDA-approved drugs to try and normalize insulin resistance in Alzheimer's patients while potentially improving their memory at the same time. It could also lead to a greater understanding of the biology behind the cognitive issues in Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia. There is no cure for the disease, which worsens as it progresses, and eventually leads to death.

Symptoms:
  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life.
  • Challenges in planning or solving problems.
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.
  • Confusion with time or place.
  • Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.
  • New problems with words in speaking or writing.
  • Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.
  • Decreased or poor judgment.
  • Withdrawal from work or social activities.
  • Changes in mood and personality.
Prevalence:
  • An estimated 5.4 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease in 2012. This figure includes 5.2 million people age 65 and older and 200,000 individuals under age 65 who have younger-onset Alzheimer’s.
  • One in eight people age 65 and older (13 percent) has Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Nearly half of people age 85 and older (45 percent) have Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Of those with Alzheimer’s disease…
    • an estimated 4 percent are under age 65
    • 6 percent are 65 to 74
    • 44 percent are 75 to 84
    • 46 percent are 85 or older
  • Every 68 seconds, someone in America develops Alzheimer’s.
  • By mid-century, someone in America will develop the disease every 33 seconds.
Diabetes Drug Improves Memory, Study Suggests
Alzheimer's disease
Facts and Figures facts and figures

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