A research team from the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center developed a form of insulin intended to be delivered via nasal spray that can have positive results on mental capabilities, such as the working memory of adults suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and other mental and cognitive impairments.
The study examined the nasal spray’s effects on 60 adults diagnosed with amnesic mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease (AD). They received via the intranasal route 40 international units (IU) of insulin detemir, a man-made form of the hormone, over 21 days. The results evidenced improvement in their capabilities of retaining and processing both verbal and visual information when compared to those patients that only got 20 IU or none (placebo).
Further, the patients with the APOE-e4 gene, a gene that is known to increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, that received 40 IU doses also recorded significant improvements in memory, compared to those who were given lower doses or the placebo; the non-carriers of the gene registered lower scores.
In previous trials, promising effects of nasally-administered insulin in adults patients with MCI and AD were registered; however this is the first study to use insulin detemir, and is also the first to demonstrate the longer lasting effects of this type of insulin.
Suzanne Craft, leading author of the study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease entitled “Nasal Spray with Insulin Equivalent Shows Promise as Treatment for Adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment, Alzheimer’s Dementia“ said, as it can be read in a press release: “The study provides preliminary evidence that insulin detemir can provide effective treatment for people diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s-related dementia similar to our previous work with regular insulin. We are also especially encouraged that we were able to improve memory for adults with MCI who have the APOE-e4 gene, as these patients are notoriously resistant to other therapies and interventions.”
The study suggests further research regarding any therapeutic value against neurodegenerative diseases, specifically against Alzheimer’s: “Alzheimer’s is a devastating illness, for which even small therapeutic gains have the potential to improve quality of life and significantly reduce the overall burden for patients, families and society. Future studies are warranted to examine the safety and efficacy of this promising treatment,” she noted.