A discovery about Alzheimer's disease

A discovery about Alzheimer’s disease

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A new study by a team from Laval University could broaden the range of potential drugs against Alzheimer's.

“We knew before that insulin has an impact on the brain. What we show in the study is that we locate the place where the communication takes place. Where the impact of insulin is made”, explains Frédéric Calon, professor at the Faculty of Pharmacy (UL), but also researcher at the Institute of Nutrition and Functional Foods. 

The work that led to this discovery was carried out by Mr. Calon's team. The study is published in the scientific journal Brain. Rush University Medical Center in Chicago also participated. 

In particular, Alzheimer's disease is thought to cause a reduction in the number of insulin receptors in the microvessels of the brain, which would contribute to insulin resistance in the brain and the accumulation of amyloid plaques, a manifestation of the disease.  

“We see that these receptors decrease in the disease and could be underlying a decrease in the brain's response [to] insulin”, adds the researcher.

< p>These findings could have implications for the search for new drugs against Alzheimer's.

“Several clinical trials testing the effectiveness of antidiabetic drugs against Alzheimer's are underway,” says Calon.< /p>

Brain donation

This research was made possible thanks to a study begun in 1993 which involved some 1,100 members of some thirty religious congregations established in the United States. These people agreed to undergo medical examinations and to donate their brains after their death.

The results reinforce the idea that Alzheimer's is a neurodegenerative disease with a strong metabolic component.

The researcher believes that the scientific community could have done a little more over the past 20 years to thwart the disease. Treatments have not improved much.

“There is still a big lack of basic research to understand the disease, but we now understand the risk factors better.”