Slower cognitive decline in diabetics on certain medication, researchers find

September 28, 2020

Metformin, a commonly prescribed drug for patients with type-2 diabetes in the US, has been found to lower dementia rates in some older patients. Metformin has been found to confer lifespan-extending effects on several animal studies in the past – a recent study led by researchers at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in NSW, Australia, further highlights its anti-aging abilities.

Looking at data from a project called the Sydney Memory and Ageing Study, at least 120 out of 1,000 adults aged between 70 and 90 years had diabetes, of which around half were prescribed metformin. The diabetic subjects taking metformin were found to have significantly slower rates of cognitive decline compared to those diabetic subjects not taking it. The observational study also saw no difference in the rate of cognitive decline between diabetics taking metformin and non-diabetic subjects.

Previously, a robust 2017 meta-analysis boldly concluded diabetics taking metformin displayed lower all-cause mortality rates and reduced incidences of cancer, compared to age-matched non-diabetic populations.

Commenting on metformin’s promising new potential, which could be life-changing for patients at risk of dementia, Professor Katherine Samaras, Leader of the Healthy Aging Research Theme at the Garvan Institute, said metformin may add “something extra” to standard glucose lowering in diabetes care or an overall benefit to cognitive health. The Australian researchers are working out if the cognitive benefits of metformin are simply due to the drug improving diabetic symptoms, or if it could also be replicated in healthy, non-diabetic patients. A study is being planned in Australia to assess the effects of metformin on non-diabetic subjects at risk of dementia and another in Europe to see if metformin can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Category: Features, Pharmaceuticals

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