Is Alzheimer’s Diabetes Of The Brain?
The human body runs on glucose, also known as blood sugar. It creates glucose out of other molecules like fats, carbohydrates, and sometimes proteins, and it then sends the glucose into every cell of the body, cells which burn it for heat and energy. Both types of diabetes represent a kind of difficulty in regulating glucose, and a blood sugar level that’s too high or too low can be life-threatening.
The human brain needs glucose, too, and it needs an incredible amount at that. Despite accounting for around two percent of your total body weight, your brain demands 20 percent of your resting metabolic rate (which is how much your body uses up every day just to keep your organs running). In fact, watching the different parts of the brain consume glucose is one of the ways scientists can track brain activity.
One of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, at least as we understand it today, is a reduced ability to take in and process glucose within the brain. In other words, a person with Alzheimer’s can’t think as hard as a person without the disease because his or her brain isn’t getting enough energy. However, it’s still unclear whether this is the root cause of the disease.
Nevertheless, a new drug known only as T3D-959 is showing some incredible promise by enhancing the brain’s metabolism in early-stage Alzheimer’s patients, patients whose brains haven’t been seriously damaged yet. In a limited trial run of just 36 patients, over half experienced a significant improvement in memory and language use. The next step is to scale up the study to see just how well it really works, but at this point the results are very positive.
T3D-959 might not be the cure for Alzheimer’s we’ve been searching for, but it’s potentially a big step in the right direction.
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