Melissa Schilling, an innovation professor at NYU, has discovered the pathway between diabetes and Alzheimer’s, and it has big implications for how Alzheimer’s can be prevented.
Professor Schilling compared and integrated decades of research on diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and molecular chemistry, focusing in particular on results that seemed to yield conflicting results. It turns out that routine practices in research – like excluding all patients with known medical problems such as diabetes from an Alzheimer’s study, for example – had obscured the mechanisms that connect the two diseases. Those main mechanisms turn out to be insulin and the enzymes that break it down. The same enzymes that break down insulin also break down amyloid-beta, the protein that forms tangles and plaques in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s. When people have hyperinsulinemia (i.e., they secrete too much insulin due to a poor diet, pre-diabetes, early diabetes, obesity, etc.) the enzymes are too busy breaking down insulin to break down amyloid-beta, causing amyloid-beta to accumulate
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