How Nasal Insulin Spray Could Treat Alzheimer’s

Alissa Sauer
By Alissa SauerFebruary 2, 2015

A new study from the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center found that a nasal spray that uses a manufactured form of insulin could improve cognitive function for people with mild cognitive impairment and people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.

Learn more about how the nasal insulin spray works and next steps in the study.

Mitigating Alzheimer’s Symptoms for High Risk Patients

A study at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center found that a nasal spray that uses insulin detemir could improve cognitive ability for people living with Alzheimer’s. Insulin detemir is a manmade hormone that attaches to a blood protein. The protein absorbs the insulin and then distributes it throughout the body, dissolving away from the protein slowly.

The study observed 60 adults between the ages of 55-85. All participants had been diagnosed with either mild cognitive impairment or mild to moderate Alzheimer’s. Researchers administered doses of the nasal spray for 21 days. They found that the participants who received a higher dose of the nasal spray showed improvement in their short term memory and their ability to retain and process information when compared to those participants who received a lower dose.

Even participants who carried the APOE-e4 gene which increases the risk of Alzheimer’s showed marked improvement in memory skills when administered the higher dose of insulin detemir. Lead study author and professor of gerontology and geriatric medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Dr. Suzanne Craft, showed her surprise at this finding.

“Our team was surprised at the level of improvement for the participants with the gene that raises Alzheimer’s risk, as very few types of therapies have been shown to benefit these patients.”

Determining Next Steps and Further Studies

Craft went on to say: “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.”

Researchers are hoping to do a follow up study with a larger group of participants who will receive the nasal spray for a longer period of time. In the pilot study, the researchers did not find any negative side effects from the insulin detemir spray.

In future studies, researchers would like to compare the effectiveness of different forms of insulin to find the one that is most helpful in treating Alzheimer’s symptoms.

How do you manage Alzheimer’s symptoms for a loved one? Share your story in the comments below. 

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Alissa Sauer

Alissa Sauer

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