A team of researchers in Ohio is currently attempting to develop a so-called wonder drug that tackles both Alzheimer’s and Type 2 diabetes.
These conditions are known for sharing two destructive proteins that play a key role in the conditions and their development.
Clinical research being carried out at the University of Akron has raised expectation that a cure for the conditions could kill both birds with one stone in the foreseeable future.
With federal funding to the order of £200,000, this critical study could have global implications.
The US National Science Foundation has backed the researchers to produce an antidote to these two conditions, and the potential of a cure is certainly an exciting prospect for medicine and public health across the planet.
Recent years have seen a diabetes epidemic across the Western world in particular, with excessive added sugar in process food considered a major factor in this worrying trend.
The Daily Health Bulletin reported in March, 2011 that 280 million people worldwide (approximately 6.5 per cent of the world’s population) is diabetic.
Just months later, a study in The Lancet demonstrated that the number of adults with Type 2 diabetes has more than doubled in the last thirty years, soaring to almost 10 per cent of the world population.
And the burden on the National Health Service is also extremely well documented.
Official figures indicate that diabetes costs the NHS £1 million every hour. This amounts to a figure of over £8 billion per annum.
However, scientists working on the drug have noted that the majority of Alzheimer’s patients possess either Type II diabetes, or else are glucose intolerant.
Studies have indicated that diabetes sufferers aged 60 and over are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s as normally adjusted individuals.
And it is believed that a chemical interaction between two destructive proteins present in both conditions plays a key role in their development, leading researchers to assert that treating them simultaneously should be feasible.
The search for one of medicine’s most valuable secrets is being led by American scientist Dr Jie Zheng.
The experienced expert in chemical and biochemical engineering believes that it will indeed be possible to treat both conditions with a solitary tablet, and that this drug could emerge by 2025.
Both Alzheimer’s and Type 2 diabetes are caused by peptide aggregates, and feature extremely similar biological and structural functions.
An abnormal accumulation of Abeta peptides is linked to Alzheimer’s, while an abnormal accumulation of human islet amyloid polypeptide or hIAPP is linked to Type 2 diabetes.
The research is particularly building on previous studies that have suggested that animals fed a diet which would leave them vulnerable to diabetes can result in their brains being crippled with insoluble protein plaques; one of the features of Alzheimer’s.