Could Alzheimer’s Be the New Type 3 Diabetes?

Could Alzheimer’s Be the New Type 3 Diabetes: Health Day News recently reported a development that may come as a surprise to many. The finding of recent research suggests that the dementia disease Alzheimer’s may actually be a newly discovered form of diabetes.

Research cosponsored by Northwestern University and the University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil suggest that insulin therapy can repel toxic proteins that attack cells that are important to memory retention.

Bill Klein of Northwestern University praised the research team by proclaiming, “We’ve solved a big mystery that people have been puzzled about and I think that’s going to take us a step closer to getting an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.”

Lead author of the study, William L. Klein, is quoted as saying; “Sensitivity to insulin can decline with aging, which presents a novel risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Our results demonstrate that bolstering insulin signaling can protect neurons from harm.”


In the study drugs used to aid those who have Type 2 diabetes (including insulin) were used to protect cells from the brains memory center. This diabetic drug cocktail protected against amyloid beta-derived diffusible ligands, or ADDLs, which has been linked to the development of Alzheimer’s.

A press release on the research had co-lead author Fernanda G. De Felice indicating, “The discovery that anti-diabetic drugs shield synapses against ADDLs offers new hope for fighting memory loss in Alzheimer’s disease.”

Meanwhile researchers from the UK have been bold in saying that this finding may lend to new medical therapies for treating Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Victoria King with Diabetes UK said, “This study is in its early stages but it is interesting because it suggests that insulin, alongside drugs that help the body use insulin more effectively, may protect against the underlying biological mechanisms associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease.”

It has already been established that individuals with Type 2 diabetes are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. Science may just now be understanding the significant role insulin deprivation can have on this disease.

What makes this an interesting development is that it appears the brain responds to the body’s attempt to supply insulin in much the same way the rest of the body responds in diabetic patients – it is resistant to its beneficial effects. It repels the insulin while ADDL’s (toxic proteins) cause havoc within the brain.

One of the primary struggles with moving forward with the information now available is that the research was done on brain cells that were removed from the hippocampus. There is no specific way to infuse mega doses of insulin directly into the brain. What that means is that medical science would need to develop a delivery method that is different than current options.

At Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York research there has shown that diabetics who take insulin as well as diabetic pills have a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s.

Like other forms of diabetes there are also strong indications that self managed care including diet and exercise can also have a profound effect on the development of Alzheimer’s.

The Alzheimer’s Association reports that 5.2 million U.S. citizens have the disease. Millions more are affected on a global scale. While there is disagreement as to the authority of the designation some researchers in this field of study have referred to Alzheimer’s as Type 3 diabetes.