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New UNLV research shows a tighter link between Alzheimer's and diabetes

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Associated Press

Researchers at UNLV say they’ve strengthened the link between Type II diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, which saps brain function and has no cure.

In a study published in the journal Communications Biology, neuroscience researchers show that chronic hyperglycemia impairs working memory performance and alters fundamental aspects of working memory networks.

“Diabetes is a major risk factor for developing Alzheimer's disease, but it is not clear why,” says James Hyman, study author and associate professor of psychology at UNLV. “We show that a central feature of diabetes, hyperglycemia, impairs neural activity in ways that are similar to what is observed in preclinical Alzheimer's disease models. This is the first evidence showing neural activity changes due to hyperglycemia overlap with what is observed in Alzheimer’s systems.”

Hyman told State of Nevada that "what we found could potentially be a biomarker, that we could use not only to be able to look in patients, potentially, for early Alzheimer's-like problems, in terms of network dysfunction, but also to be able to test against new compounds" that could one day lead to improved treatments.

The research project is the continuation of a six-year collaboration between Hyman and coauthor Jefferson Kinney, chair and professor in UNLV’s Department of Brain Health, to better understand why diabetes can elevate the risk for Alzheimer’s.

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"There's a number of different parts and pieces to what happens both in diabetes and in Alzheimer's disease," Kinney said, "and really, a lot of this research is being directed at trying to understand the linkage between the two."

The study was funded by a grant from the National Institute on Aging.

Guests

James Hyman, UNLV associate professor of psychology, study author; Jefferson Kinney, chair, UNLV Department of Brain Health 

 

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