Introducing Type 3 Diabetes
You may be familiar with the condition known as diabetes. If you or someone you know has diabetes you will probably be aware of the major differences between Type 1 Diabetes in which the pancreas stops producing insulin, and Type 2 Diabetes in which the body either doesn’t make enough insulin or makes insulin which can’t be used.
Type 2 Diabetes accounts for over 90% of all cases and can be triggered by events such as being overweight, not exercising enough or drinking excess alcohol.
Now let us introduce you to Type 3 Diabetes. It’s probably not one you have heard of. And to be honest there is still some debate about whether it should be classified as diabetes at all. But there is a growing body of evidence to say that Alzheimer’s disease should be classified as Type 3 Diabetes.
Actually, it’s not a new concept.
In 2008 researchers concluded that evidence gathered to that date provided strong evidence to support the conclusion that Alzheimer’s represented a form of diabetes that selectively affected the brain.
Insulin plays a key role within the brain, helping to regulate the connections between neurons, an important mechanism for learning and memory. Interestingly, insulin has also been shown to play a role in the formation of amyloid plaques which can form up between neurons and disrupt their function; a key element of Alzheimer’s. So if insulin can both perform a protective and degenerative role within the brain it is easy to see which insulin regulation might be seen as critical in the development of Alzheimer’s.
This opens up a new field of research, helping us to better understand how Alzheimer’s, or Type 3 Diabetes, develops and whether this new understanding could lead to new forms of treatment or management.
One 2022 paper suggested that a family history of Type 2 Diabetes should be seen as a possible risk factor for Alzheimer’s.
It also suggested that tests for fasting glucose and insulin as well as insulin resistance tests should be carried out regularly not only on those with diabetes but also those in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
It may be that in the future treatments used to reverse or slow down the development of Type 2 Diabetes could help to slow down the progress of Alzheimer’s. At the moment the research is in its early stages but the more that the link between Alzheimer’s and insulin is recognised the greater the chance that physicians can start to recommend early interventions in lifestyle which may help in managing the early stages of Alzheimer’s.
In the meantime, when making lifestyle choices in order to reduce the chance of developing the side effects such as heart and kidney damage or loss of eyesight that Type 2 Diabetes can bring it might be worth adding Type 3 Diabetes into the mix. It’s an added incentive to change if lifestyle choices now could help to reduce the chance of developing Alzheimer’s in the future.
As part of Occuity's technology roadmap, we intend to apply our technology for use in a device that enables screening in non-clinical settings such as pharmacies and care homes for the early signs of Alzheimer's. To learn more click here.
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