Researchers at Northwestern University have made an interesting connection between Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes. They suggest that it is a 3rd form of diabetes.
Type 3 diabetes affects the ‘amyloid Beta-derived diffusible ligand‘ (ADDL). ADDLs are small, soluble aggregated proteins that appear to accumulate during the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease and are known to block memory and learning functions in its victims.
ADDLs bind specifically at the brain’s synapses. They change the synapse composition and shape, which results in the deterioration of memory and learning. The Northwestern research shows that the molecules that make memories at synapses–the insulin receptors–are removed by the ADDLs. The researchers conclude this is a major factor in the memory deficiencies of Alzheimer’s patients and feel that the process could well be reversible.
The next step in research is to find ways to make the insulin receptors, in the synapses, resistant to the impact of ADDLs and the researchers believe that might not be so difficult. Using the drug arsenal for type 2 diabetes (in which individuals become insulin resistant) may translate well to an Alzheimer’s treatment. Researchers feel that such a drug could supersede currently available Alzheimer’s drugs.