New study shows diabetes drug reduces dementia risk
New study shows diabetes drug reduces dementia risk

Cheap drug that reduces dementia risk

A cheap, widely used diabetes treatment has been shown to lower dementia rates in older Australians with the disease.

People with type 2 diabetes are three to five times more likely to develop dementia but a Garvan Institute study found the risk returned to normal if they were using the diabetes drug Metformin.

The research team has just won funding to begin a new trial to test whether the drug can lower the risk of dementia in people without diabetes.

The breakthrough research is the latest promising news about Metformin which has also been shown to reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease and extend the life of mice if used in low doses.

Garvan Institute and UNSW Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing researcher Professor Katherine Samaras. Picture: Supplied
Garvan Institute and UNSW Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing researcher Professor Katherine Samaras. Picture: Supplied

Australian anti-ageing guru Harvard University Professor David Sinclair takes a daily dose of the drug even though he does not have diabetes after his work showed it extended the life of mice.

Dr Marina Ezcurra, a researcher at Queen Mary University in London, has found Metformin delays ageing in worms and works by using bacteria.

It is now being tested in human clinical trials to see if it can control the ageing process and to test whether it can reduce rates of breast and prostate cancer.

Australians with type 2 diabetes fill more than 5 million scripts a year for Metformin to lower their insulin levels.

To check whether the drug could control dementia Garvan Institute and UNSW Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing researcher Professor Katherine Samaras studied over 1000 Australians aged 70-90 for six years.

In the study published in the journal Diabetes Care, 123 participants had type 2 diabetes, and 67 received metformin to lower blood sugar levels.

The researchers tested the cognitive function of all 1000 participants every two years.

They found those with type 2 diabetes who used Metformin had slower cognitive decline with lower dementia rates than those who did not use the medication.

"As they age, people living with type 2 diabetes have a staggering 60 per cent risk of developing dementia, a devastating condition that impacts thinking, behaviour, the ability to perform everyday tasks and the ability to maintain independence," said Professor Samaras.

She said those taking Metformin with type 2 diabetes showed no difference in the rate of decline in cognitive function over six years compared to those without diabetes.

 

Metformin has been shown to lower dementia rates in older Australians with the disease. Picture: Supplied
Metformin has been shown to lower dementia rates in older Australians with the disease. Picture: Supplied

 

It was unclear why Metformin had this effect but Professor Samaras suggested it could be the way it affected blood vessels, treated inflammation or tackled insulin resistance.

However, she stopped short of calling metformin a "wonder drug" and urged people not to rush to their doctor asking for a prescription.

"I think we should be cautious about calling Metformin that. We should be very, very careful before we put anything in our mouths," she said.

Before the medication could be repurposed, there needed to be good clinical trial data that not only proved its benefits but checked whether there were any potential adverse effects, she said.

While it was generally safe, side effects of the treatment included nausea and diarrhoea and it could not be used by people with kidney failure.

Senior author of the study and Co-Director of Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing Professor Perminder Sachdev said this was an observational study and does not provide conclusive 'proof' that metformin is protective against dementia.

 

 

Originally published as Cheap drug that reduces dementia risk



Structural damage a concern after fire in business hub

Premium Content Structural damage a concern after fire in business hub

A BUILDING sustained significant damage in the early-morning blaze.

Woman found with ‘critical’ head injury dies

Premium Content Woman found with ‘critical’ head injury dies

A woman who was fighting for life in hospital after being found with critical head...

Woman dies after being found with critical injuries

Premium Content Woman dies after being found with critical injuries

A FAMILY member found the woman injured in her North Coast home earlier this...