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Insulin Spray May Improve Alzheimer's Symptoms
Date:9/12/2011

By Margaret Steele
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Sept. 12 (HealthDay News) -- A nasal insulin spray may someday help people with mild memory problems or early Alzheimer's disease improve or preserve their mental functioning, a new small study suggests.

But, the study authors added, much more research is needed to see if the therapy will actually benefit patients.

Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia in the elderly, initially causes difficulty with thought, memory and language, and insulin dysfunction is thought to play a role in symptoms.

"Although a small study, the authors provide some of the most convincing evidence to date that insulin treatment may alleviate symptoms of Alzheimer's disease," said Dr. James E. Galvin, professor of neurology and psychiatry and director of the Pearl S. Barlow Center for Memory Evaluation and Treatment at NYU Langone Medical Center.

Previous studies have suggested a link between obesity, type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer's disease, Galvin said. This study "further supports links between impaired insulin signaling in the brain and cognitive decline," he added.

For the four-month study, published online Sept. 12 in Archives of Neurology, Seattle researchers recruited 104 people with mild memory problems related to Alzheimer's disease or a condition known as amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI). Thirty-six participants received 20 IU (international units) of insulin daily, 38 participants got 40 IUs of insulin daily, and 30 took a placebo daily.

The researchers assessed the insulin's effects on thought processes, everyday functioning and glucose metabolism in the brain, among other factors.

At the end of the study period, those who took 20 IUs daily demonstrated improved story recall -- they could better remember details immediately after hearing a story and after a brief lapse in time. Neither those taking the higher dose of ins
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