After two months of daily injections the mice were shown to significantly improve their performance in a maze created to test memory.
There are now half a million people living with Alzheimer's disease in the United Kingdom and more than five million people with diabetes, both conditions pose a major cost to the NHS, and health systems worldwide.
"With no new treatments in almost 15 years, we need to find new ways of tackling Alzheimer's", Doug Brown, director of Research and Development at Alzheimer's Society, said.
So researchers have been investigating whether drugs that treat type 2 diabetes might also benefit Alzheimer's symptoms for a while now.
The drug, which is referred to only as "triple receptor agonist", or TA, in the paper, acts in multiple ways to protect the brain from degeneration, by activating GIP-1, GIP, and glucagon receptors at the same time.
"Everyone who writes about Alzheimer's knows there's a synapse deficiency, and this impairs connections between brain regions".
The genetically engineered mice the drug was tested on possess the human mutated genes from a hereditary form of Alzheimer's. The animals were already exhibiting numerous symptoms associated with the disease, including compromised memory and difficulty learning, but showed dramatic improvement in their brain function after receiving the unique treatment. But studies with existing diabetes drugs like liraglutide have shown that they can be helpful for Alzheimer's patients. "This approach to research could make it much quicker to get promising new drugs to the people who need them", said Doug Brown, director of research and development at Alzheimer's Society. These genes run in families and are responsible for a form of Alzheimer's that can be inherited. Aged transgenic mice in the advanced stages of neurodegeneration were treated, the researchers explained. As Type 2 diabetes is a major risk factor for Alzheimer's, with desensitization to insulin suspected of playing a key role in the onset of neurodegenerative disorders, neurodegenerative disorders.
A clinical study, performed by researchers from the United Kingdom and China, has demonstrated that novel triple receptor agonists (TAs) originally developed to treat Type 2 diabetes, significantly reversed memory loss in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease.
"Clinical studies with an older version of this drug type already showed very promising results in people with Alzheimer's disease or with mood disorders", he continued.
Experimental drug called triple receptor agonist was used in the study, which is being developed to treat diabetes.
The researchers acknowledge that further dose-response tests will be needed, as well as direct comparisons with other drugs, to determine whether the new TA is more effective against neurodegnerative disorders than prevously developed drugs. It also reduced Alzheimer's-linked brain plaques, and slowed the rate of cell loss.