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Cellular Protein Yields Clues to Diabetes, Alzheimer's

Animal tests suggest humanin could have therapeutic benefits

WEDNESDAY, July 22 (HealthDay News) -- New information about a cellular protein might help in efforts to develop drug treatments for diabetes and Alzheimer's disease, researchers say.

In tests on rats, they found that humanin, which may prevent nerve cells from dying, also helps improve insulin action and lower blood glucose levels.

"This new role of humanin in glucose metabolism, in addition to its role in Alzheimer's disease, is very intriguing since scientists have long proposed a link between type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer's disease," Dr. Nir Barzilai, a professor and director of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, said in a news release from the college.

"Humanin could turn out to be a therapeutic option for two common debilitating diseases that affect millions of people, Barzilai said. "Additionally, humanin may help treat other age-related diseases."

The study appears online July 22 in PLoS One.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about Alzheimer's disease.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Albert Einstein College of Medicine, news release, July 21, 2009

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