Man-made insulin that is used via a nasal spray, is thought to have potential in treatment of adults who suffer from dementia and Alzheimer's.
According to a pilot study, conducted on 60 adults by researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, the spray may improve working memory and other mental capabilities in the patients.
The study's subjects were diagnosed with amnesic mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or mild to moderate Alzheimer's dementia (AD). Those who received nasally-administered 40 international unit (IU) doses of insulin detemir, a manufactured form of the hormone, for 21 days showed significant improvement in their short-term ability to retain and process verbal and visual information compared with those who received 20 IU does or a placebo.
Additionally, the recipients of 40 IU doses carrying the APOE-e4 gene - which is known to increase the risk for Alzheimer's - recorded significantly higher memory scores than those who received the loser dosage or placebo, while non-carriers across all three groups posted significantly lower scores.
Previous trials had shown promising effects of nasally-administered insulin for adults with AD and MCI, but this study was the first to use insulin detemir, whose effects are longer-lasting than those of "regular" insulin.
Lead author of the study Suzanne Craft, Ph.D., said that the study provided preliminary evidence that insulin detemir could provide effective treatment for people diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's-related dementia similar to our previous work with regular insulin.
The researchers also sought to determine if the insulin detemir doses would cause any negative side effects, and found only minor adverse reactions among the subjects.
The study's overall results support further investigation of the therapeutic value of insulin detemir as a treatment for Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases, Craft said.
The study is published online in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.