Alzheimer's linked to diabetes?

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WASHINGTON: A provocative new theory suggests that one root cause of Alzheimer’s disease is linked to diabetes – a theory about to be tested in thousands of Alzheimer’s patients given the diabetes drug Avandia in hopes of slowing brain decay.

It’s a scary scenario: Alzheimer’s already is expected to skyrocket as the population grays, rising from 4.5 million sufferers today to a staggering 14 million by 2050. If the new theory is right, the nation’s current obesity-fuelled epidemic of Type 2 diabetes could worsen that toll.

But proponents see potential good news: If diabetic-like changes in the way brain cells use sugar to generate energy truly trigger Alzheimer’s in at least some patients, then maybe doctors could intervene early and slow down that degeneration.

A preliminary experiment involving 511 Alzheimer’s patients found signals that Avandia might help albeit in people who lack a gene that spurs more aggressive Alzheimer’s.

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