Sniffing Out New Strategies in the Fight against Alzheimer’s Disease

Image: Flickr/Michelle Tribe

Despite barriers of blood, brain and bureaucracy, intranasal insulin may emerge as a promising treatment for pathological memory loss

The newest chemical under investigation for managing Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is actually not new at all. Insulin, the therapeutic hormone all-too familiar to individuals with diabetes, has been around for decades. In fact December will mark 90 years since its discoverers earned the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the extraction of insulin for clinical use. Yet to say that insulin has been under our noses all these years wouldn’t exactly be correct. Because if it had been under our noses, we might have sensed its neurologic benefits sooner.

The latest insulin therapy is not delivered via injection like its diabetes-treating counterparts, nor does it come in the form of a pill or a patch like the cholinesterase inhibitors often prescribed to patients with AD. Instead this novel therapeutic enters the body through the nose—the only entry point that gives insulin a chance of reaching the brain.

A large peptide molecule, insulin from the blood cannot float easily into the brain because the blood brain barrier (BBB), a sort of neuroprotective moat, prevents its transport. Fortified by cellular guards called tight junctions, the BBB rejects many pharmacologic hopefuls, allowing entrance only to certain types of substances. Namely small or lipophilic molecules can be administered orally (or via injection, or through the skin) and as long as the relevant chemicals end up in the blood stream, they can casually saunter across the BBB and act on the brain. Large and cumbersome, insulin does not have this luxury and must therefore take a more creative route across the moat.

The nose, conspicuous and sometimes even goofy, provides that creative route.  Yet it’s a route that, for many years, researchers were hesitant to take.

“They would say things like, ‘Well, why would there be a blood brain barrier if all you had to do was put something in the nose and it would go to the brain?’” says William H. Frey II, Ph.D., Research Director at HealthPartners Center for Memory & Aging. As of 1989 Frey had been “in the Alzheimer’s deal” for over a decade. At that time he was conducting clinical trials of a neurotrophic factor (a therapeutic protein) to treat AD and, because of the seeming insurmountability of the BBB, the work had been less than fruitful. “It became clear to me that, once again, this neurotrophic factor was not getting effectively into the brain,” he says. So Frey decided to sleep on it. “I went to sleep and I had a dream. And this is how I discovered the intranasal method of getting around the blood brain barrier,” he says. “It had been known since the early 1900s that a number of different viruses that got into the nose would travel up the olfactory nerves and the trigeminal nerves—both of these are nerves that go directly from the nasal mucosa right into the brain. The idea that came to me in this dream in 1989 was: if bad things can do it, why can’t good things do it?”

When Frey revisited the idea upon waking, it registered as simultaneously intuitive and absurd—a logical fantasy like so many dreams.

See Also

Read more . . .



The Latest Bing News on:
Intranasal insulin
  • 7 Medication Types That Could Make You Gain Weight, Plus 5 That Can Help You Lose It
    on May 21, 2024 at 8:37 am

    Curious to know if your medication could be affecting your weight? Here’s a look at how 12 types of medicine might impact your goals.

  • Insulin and Diabetes Management Insulin
    on May 20, 2024 at 5:17 am

    With the discovery of insulin at the University of Toronto in the early 1920’s, followed by the establishment of commercial production, diabetes was no longer a death sentence. Insulin was not a cure, ...

  • Animal models of human type 1 diabetes
    on May 12, 2024 at 1:31 am

    This is particularly problematic for the use of beta-cell antigen–specific mucosal immunization (such as oral or nasal insulin) to induce adaptive regulatory T cells that can establish long-term ...

  • What Blood Sugar Level Requires Insulin?
    on May 5, 2024 at 5:00 pm

    An A1C test result equal to or above 6.5% indicates a blood sugar level requiring insulin. A1C is a type of blood test designed to measure an individual's average blood sugar level across three ...

  • What is behind the insulin shortage in the US?
    on May 1, 2024 at 5:00 pm

    In the past month, she learned that there would be a 30-to-60-day delay in receiving her medication Humalog, an insulin drug made by Eli Lilly. While announcing a shortage in March, Eli Lilly said ...

  • Hypothalamic Obesity Tx; Weekly Insulin Under Review; Ozempic Price Investigation
    on April 29, 2024 at 5:00 pm

    A Senate committee launched an investigation into how Novo Nordisk prices its semaglutide (Ozempic, Wegovy) in the U.S. (Reuters) Intranasal ... compared with standard insulin therapy.

  • 13 Ways to Lower Your Insulin Levels
    on April 25, 2024 at 5:00 pm

    You may be able to help reduce high insulin levels by making dietary changes and increasing your physical activity. Insulin is an extremely important hormone that your pancreas produces.

  • Inhaled insulin could improve lives of patients with diabetes
    on April 24, 2024 at 5:00 pm

    However, recent innovations, such as inhaled insulin, the hormone made by the pancreas, which controls blood sugar, have sparked hope for more effective and user-friendly treatments. Diabetes is ...

  • Insulin affordability impacts public health
    on April 24, 2024 at 4:53 am

    More than 8 million Americans rely on insulin to survive, according to the American Diabetes Association, but with high prices and supply shortages hampering access, lawmakers and healthcare ...

  • Insulin: How Does It Work?
    on April 23, 2024 at 5:00 pm

    Insulin is a hormone your body makes that helps it control your blood sugar level and metabolism — the process that turns the food you eat into energy. Your pancreas makes insulin and releases ...

The Latest Google Headlines on:
Intranasal insulin

[google_news title=”” keyword=”Intranasal insulin” num_posts=”10″ blurb_length=”0″ show_thumb=”left”]

The Latest Bing News on:
The Latest Google Headlines on:

[google_news title=”” keyword=”Alzheimer’s” num_posts=”10″ blurb_length=”0″ show_thumb=”left”]

What's Your Reaction?
Don't Like it!
I Like it!
Scroll To Top