Spraying insulin twice daily in the nose can control early Alzheimer's disease, a study published online in the Archives of Neurology suggests.
The small pilot study was conducted on 104 people with mild memory problems. The research team, led by Suzanne Craft, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington, found that spraying insulin twice daily into the nose slows down and, in some cases, reverses symptoms of Alzheimer's, researchers said Monday.
The researchers, however, confirmed that more detailed research is required to find out whether the therapy is truly helpful.
The research was supported by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
Dr. James E. Galvin, professor of neurology and psychiatry and director of the Pearl S. Barlow Center for Memory Evaluation and Treatment at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York supported the present research saying, although a small study, the authors provide some of the most convincing evidence to date that insulin treatment may alleviate symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.
The subjects were divided into three groups and were studied for four months.
The first group consisting of 30 people was given a placebo, the second group had 36 people who got 20 IU of aerosolized insulin per day and the third group of 38 people got 40 IU of insulin every day.
The researchers judged the effects of insulin on the subjects by assessing factors like thought process, everyday activity and glucose metabolism in the brain.
The end result of the study showed that people who took 20 IU of insulin daily did much better in recalling a story than the other two groups. The placebo taking group showed sign of decline in the standard dementia test done before and after the study as compared to both the insulin taking groups.
A link between obesity, Type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer's was established in earlier researches but the present study further supports links between impaired insulin signaling in the brain and cognitive decline, Galvin said.
Alzheimer's is a form of dementia that affects memory, thinking and behavior. The situation gets worse with time and the early symptoms of Alzheimer's usually appear at the age of 60 and tend to spread very fast. Family history plays a pivotal role in Alzheimer's.
Insulin is a metabolic hormone best known for its role in treating diabetes, a condition in which the hormone is either insufficiently produced or poorly used by the body's organs. Insulin is a hormone central to regulating carbohydrate and fat metabolism in the body.