Trials Begin to Use Weight-Loss Medicines Like Ozempic and Wegovy to Treat Dementia

Wegovy (Photo: Getty Images)

Scientists are looking for the potential of groundbreaking weight loss drugs to also treat dementia.

Wegovy, Ozempic, and Mounjaro are under investigation as medications for neurological conditions by researchers in the US and Europe.

It is believed that GLP-1 receptor drugs could enhance the effectiveness of current Alzheimer’s treatments in clearing amyloid beta plaques from the brain, which are implicated in cognitive decline.

Obesity is a significant risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, which claims the lives of 100,000 Americans annually. Experts are concerned that global rates will rise as people live longer and obesity rates increase.

In 2021, Novo Nordisk initiated a large-scale trial named EVOKE, involving 1,840 participants over three years, to evaluate Ozempic as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. Concurrently, the University of Oxford has launched its own investigation.

Dr. Ted Dawson, a neurologist at Johns Hopkins University, shared that initial research in his lab demonstrated the drugs’ efficacy against Alzheimer’s in mice.

Ozempic Injection (Photo: Getty Images)

Dr. Suzanne Craft, a geriatric medicine specialist from Wake Forest University, highlighted the potential for GLP-1 drugs to complement existing Alzheimer’s therapies.

“Given the mechanisms of action of these drugs and the biological changes associated with Alzheimer’s, it makes sense to examine if these drugs can slow down the progression of the disease,” remarked Dr. Percy Griffin, Director of Scientific Engagement at the Alzheimer’s Association.

Dr. Craft emphasized the drugs’ role in managing weight and insulin levels, factors closely linked to cognitive health. She underscored the importance of using these drugs alongside existing Alzheimer’s treatments to address multiple aspects of the disease’s biology.

Dr. Charles Bernick, a neurologist at the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, noted the potential of these drugs to reduce inflammation in the brain and promote nerve cell growth, crucial for repairing damage caused by amyloid beta plaques.

The research underscores the complexity of Alzheimer’s disease and the potential benefits of a multifaceted approach to treatment. As Dr. Bernick summarized, “The more medicine we have to fight a disease like Alzheimer’s… the better.”

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