A drug designed for diabetes sufferers could have the potential to treat neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, a study by scientists at the University of Ulster has revealed.
Type II diabetes is a known risk factor for Alzheimer's and it is thought that impaired insulin signalling in the brain could damage nerve cells and contribute to the disease.
Scientists believe that drugs designed to tackle Type II diabetes could also have benefits for keeping our brain cells healthy.
To investigate this, Prof Christian Hölscher and his team at the Biomedical Sciences Research Institute on the Coleraine campus used an experimental drug called (Val8)GLP-1.
This drug simulates the activity of a protein called GLP-1, which can help the body control its response to blood sugar. The scientists treated healthy mice with the drug and studied its effects in the brain.
Although it is often difficult for drugs to cross from the blood into the brain, the team found that (Val8)GLP-1 entered the brain and appeared to have no side-effects at the doses tested.