Using Insulin Spray for Alzheimer’s Symptoms

By | May 15, 2012

The US government announced additional funding this week for Alzheimer’s prevention and research, including $8 million to test an insulin nasal spray for treating Alzheimer’s disease. The funding was announced as part of the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease, also known as NAPA 2025.

This is an important and useful step to validate an easy, safe, and relatively low cost treatment approach for Alzheimer’s symptoms. Delivering insulin in a common nasal spray format can bump up the amount of insulin and glucose available in the brain, which has been shown to improve memory, learning, and other cognitive functions necessary for functional living.

A key point here is that insulin spray is a treatment for Alzheimer’s symptoms, and not a cure. However, by itself, anything that can reliably relieve Alzheimer’s symptoms enough to allow for functional self care (bathing, dressing, preparing meals, etc.) would be a huge benefit to patients, families, and caregivers alike – not to mention better use of Medicare resources because of fewer unnecessary hospital visits.

The NAPA plan also helps fund a clinical trial for Crenezumab, a experimental drug to prevent Alzheimer’s from developing in the first place. The study will focus on volunteer subjects who have specific genetic mutations that strongly predispose them to early onset (before age 65) Alzheimer’s.

There may be some interesting insights from the Crenezumab study into how to slow down symptom progression in the more typical Alzheimer’s pattern of developing the disease after age 65. As I mentioned in this post on rethinking a cure for Alzheimer’s, we may begin to look at Alzheimer’s as a chronic but manageable condition, much like hypertension or diabetes.