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Diabetes drug may help increase cognitive function in Alzheimer's patients

Category: General Wellness

Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston found that a drug known as rosiglitazone, which is normally used for insulin-resistant diabetic patients, helped improve cognitive function in memory and learning.

The study, which used mice as test subjects, found that rosiglitazone improved the transmission between neurons in the brain by helping control a molecule in brain known as extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) that becomes frenetic and results in impaired learning and memory.

"Using this drug appears to restore the neuronal signaling required for proper cognitive function," said research author, Larry Denner Ph.D. "It gives us an opportunity to test several FDA-approved drugs to normalize insulin resistance in Alzheimer's patients and possibly also enhance memory, and it also gives us a remarkable tool to use in animal models to understand the molecular mechanisms that underlie cognitive issues in Alzheimer's."

Alzheimer's statistics and diagnosis
According to the Alzheimer's Association, 5.4 million people in the U.S. suffer from the disorder, and it is the sixth most common cause of death in Americans. Out of the top 10 causes of death in the country, it is the only one that cannot be prevented or cured. The cost of caring for people with Alzheimer's is predicted to be $200 billion in 2012, according to the Alzheimer's Association.

To diagnose Alzheimer's, physicians will analyze a patient's medical history, conduct mental status testing, give a physical and neurological exam and administer blood testing in order to rule out other diseases that may cause dementia-like symptoms.

The Alzheimer's Association also notes one of the some symptoms of the condition is memory loss that interferes with daily tasks, such as forgetting recent information, which results in questions being frequently repeated. Alzheimer's patients may also get lost going to familiar locations and may forget rules to games.

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