Another promising result for Alzheimer's patients is that these drugs could be given in the form of a pill, de la Monte says. In the study, the drugs were injected to control the amounts administered.
"One of the most exciting findings was that peripheral (intraperitoneal) injection of the PPAR agonists either partially or completely rescued the brains from neurodegeneration," the authors write.
Alzheimer's appears to be caused by parallel abnormalities ?impaired insulin signaling and oxidative stress, which is regulated by the genes NOS and NOX. The PPAR agonists treatments target both problems. They preserve the cells regulated by insulin and IGF, and they decrease oxidative stress, resulting in fewer lesions in the brain.
"If the diagnosis is suspected or patients are in the early phases of AD, there's a good possibility they could get treatment that will help them. It's possible that in the moderate phase, treatment will also help, but more work needs to be done to show that," de la Monte says.
Treatment is not likely to work in the late stages of the disease, she says, because the cells have already died.