A synthetic form of insulin delivered by nasal spray has shown promise in a pilot study, researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center say.
The nasal spray “may improve working memory and other mental capabilities in adults with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease dementia,” according to the researchers.
Sixty adult subjects took part in the study.
Twenty of them received a placebo, and the others received international unit doses of insulin detemir, which is a synthetic version of human insulin.
Twenty-one people were given 20 international unit doses and 19 received 40 IU doses.
The adults who received 40 nasal doses of insulin detemir for 21 days showed the most improvement in their short-term ability to retain and process verbal and visual information.
The study also found that the adults who received the most doses and had a gene known to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s had higher memory scores than the other subjects.
“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,” said Suzanne Craft, professor of gerontology and geriatric medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and lead author of the study.
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center said that previous trials using insulin delivered by a spray for adults were promising, but as far as the researchers could determine this study was the first to use insulin detemir, which tends to be longer-lasting than “regular” insulin.
“Insulin detemir attaches to a protein called albumin and then slowly dissolves over several hours,” Craft said.
The researchers found only minor adverse reactions among the subjects.
Craft said that the study results support further investigation.
The research was supported by National Institute of Aging grants and the Department of Veteran Affairs.
Co-authors of the study that was led by researchers at Wake Forest Baptist are Laura Baker of Wake Forest Baptist; Amy Claxton, Dr. Angela Hanson, Emily H. Trittschuh, Amy Morgan, Dr. Maureen Callaghan and Colin Behl of Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System and University of Washington School of Medicine; Brenna Cholerton of University of Washington School of Medicine; and Matthew Arbuckle of Oregon Health Sciences University.
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