According to a study conducted by experts at Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet, processes connected with a specific diabetic treatment may also aid to guard against Alzheimer’s disease.
The findings, which were published in Neurology, suggest that the drug’s target protein might be a promising option for treating Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is growing more widespread, yet there are no treatments that can delay or stop the progression of the disease, and developing new drugs is a long, expensive, and complicated process.
As an alternative, discover currently authorised medications that can be shown to be effective against the condition and offer them a new application.
Diabetes medicines have been proposed as potential possibilities, however research testing diabetes drugs for Alzheimer’s disease have yielded inconclusive results thus far. Researchers from Karolinska Institutet employed genetic approaches to investigate this further in the current work.
“Genetic variants within or nearby the genes that encode a drug’s target proteins can cause physiological changes similar to the effects of the drug,” says the study’s first author Bowen Tang, doctoral student at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet. “We utilise such variants to test the repurposing potential of already approved drugs.”
The researchers started by looking for genetic polymorphisms that mimicked the pharmacological impact of diabetic medications, specifically blood glucose reduction. An study of data from over 300,000 people in the UK Biobank registration was used to accomplish this.
Variants were discovered in two genes that code for the target protein of a family of diabetic drugs known as sulphonylureas. The researchers proved that these variations are linked to increased insulin release, a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes, and a higher BMI, all of which are consistent with the drug’s effects.
The researchers next looked at the relationship between the genetic variants discovered and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. They accomplished it by analysing data from over 24,000 persons with Alzheimer’s disease and 55,000 healthy people. They discovered that sulphonylurea gene variations were connected to a decreased incidence of Alzheimer’s disease.
“Our results suggest that the target protein of sulphonylureas, the KATP channel, may be a therapeutic target for the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease,” says the study’s last author Sara Hagg, docent at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet. “This protein is expressed in the pancreas, but also in the brain, and further studies are needed to fully understand the underlying biology.”