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Semaglutide: wonder drug which may reduce the incidence of dementia

I am not a supporter of the search for ‘The Silver Bullet’ which will prevent or cure Alzheimer’s disease.

Many millions of pounds have been spent on the search for a wonder drug which will protect or revive dying neurones – all to no avail. There is much more to be gained by applying what we know about life-style and general health to reduce the incidence of dementia, rather than the preference for a (money-spinning) magic potion.

But it is important to be flexible and open-minded. The week we are hearing about Semaglutamide which was developed as a treatment for Type-2 Diabetes: it works by binding to and activating glucagon-like peptide receptors to increase insulin secretion and suppress glucagon. It also slows gastric emptying.

Clinical observations found that patients who had been overweight, lost 10% or more of their body weight on this treatment. So it has become popular as a way of combating obesity even amongst people who do not have diabetes. Semaglutide for weight loss - what you need to know | UCLA Health

Now we read that Semaglutide may be effective in treating heart failure: Weight-loss drug can reverse heart failure symptoms, study finds | Heart disease | The Guardian

And there is a real possibility that it can reduce the incidence of dementia: Scientists hope weight-loss drugs could treat addiction and dementia | Dementia | The Guardian

Again the evidence comes from clinical observations of what happens when patients receive it as treatment for Type-2 diabetes. A study of 15,820 patients followed for a median 3.6 years found that only 15 developed dementia, compared with 32 in a control population. Treatment with glucagon‐like peptide‐1 receptor agonists and incidence of dementia: Data from pooled double‐blind randomized controlled trials and nationwide disease and prescription registers - Nørgaard - 2022 - Alzheimer's & Dementia: Translational Research & Clinical Interventions - Wiley Online Library

Careful clinical trials are now under way. There is cause for optimism.

One medication having multiple beneficial effects may make us suspicious – But aspirin has been long-established and is a truly wonder drug. We need to watch and wait, but this may be a new treatment that is worthwhile.


Each week we post a blog from David Jolley where he shares his personal views on relevant subjects.

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