Insulin Via Nasal Spray Shows Benefit In Alzheimer's Patients


SAN FRANCISCO (ASRN.ORG) - New research suggests that insulin given by spray through the nose might benefit Alzheimer's patients. 

A new short-term trial of intranasal insulin in Alzheimer's patients and people with mild cognitive decline showed benefits on certain memory and functioning tests, say researchers from the VA Puget Sound Health Care System/University of Washington-Seattle. They presented the research at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease in Honolulu. 

"We believe that restoring normal insulin function in the brain may provide therapeutic benefits to adults with Alzheimer's," researcher Suzanne Craft says. 

Intranasal administration enables insulin to access brain regions that are compromised in Alzheimer's, Craft says. 

Previous research has suggested that Alzheimer's and insulin resistance are closely related.

In the new study, 109 adults with either mild cognitive decline or early Alzheimer's received either placebo or 20 or 40 IU daily intranasal insulin treatments over the course of four months. 

The researchers found that in the insulin-taking groups, cognitive and functional test results improved significantly compared with those who received placebo. Some improvements lasted two months after treatment ended. But the ability to perform activities of daily living was unchanged. 

"We're becoming increasingly aware that diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity and hyperglycemia are all risk factors for Alzheimer's and memory loss with aging, which is the rationale for this study as a possible therapy," says R. Scott Turner, director of the Memory Disorders Program at Georgetown University Medical Center. Turner adds that intranasal insulin — which is already approved for other uses — needs to be further studied before use as an Alzheimer's treatment.

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