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Diabetes Drug could Reduce Alzheimer’s Risk, Study Reports

Update Date: Jul 14, 2014 01:08 PM EDT

According to a large German study, an affordable generic diabetes drug might be able to cut one's risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia. The researchers of the clinical trial reported that the type 2 diabetes drug, pioglitazone, which is sold as Actos created by Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd, prevented the onset of Alzheimer's.

In this analysis, the researchers from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases looked at data taken from German healthcare plans between 2004 and 2010. There were 145,717 patients who were 60-years-old or older. None of them had any signs of dementia at the beginning of the study. The researchers found that 13,841 people had gone on and developed dementia. When the team examined the effects of taking the diabetes drug, they found that people who were on pioglitazone had a six percent reduced risk of dementia in comparison to people who were not taking the drug.

"The long-term use of pioglitazone reduces the risk of dementia incidence," Anne Fink, a researcher for the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases who helped lead the trial, stated according to Reuters Health.

"It was very important to do this study," commented Ben Wolozin, professor at the Boston University Alzheimer's Disease Center, reported by Bloomberg. "However, it's actually almost surprising to me that the lowering of relative risk was so weak."

Even though the researchers could not identify the exact causes behind this relationship, they reasoned that the drug was capable of staving off Alzheimer's disease because the drug reduces inflammation in the central nervous system. However, other factors could be at play as well.

Currently, Takeda has an ongoing study with Zinfandel Pharmaceuticals Inc. to examine the potential health benefits of taking low-dose pioglitazone in preventing cognitive decline and impairment in people with genetic risk factors for Alzheimer's. The study, called Tomorrow, was started last year and will continue to enroll participants until they reach their goal of 5,800 people. Results from this study will be available over the next few years.

The study's findings were presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference taking place in Copenhagen, Denmark.

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