A recently published paper in the World Journal of Diabetes by Candeias et al (2015)* examined the neuroprotective effects of the type 2 diabetes drug Liraglutide. Liraglutide, which is one of The Cure Parkinson’s Trust’s (CPT) prioritised drugs in the Linked Clinical Trials programme, is part of the incretin family of GLP-1 receptor agonists (click here for CPT's current research projects in this field). GLP-1 enhances the release of insulin to allow for increased uptake of glucose into cells thereby lowering glucose levels in the blood. There are many GLP-1 receptors in the brain and it seems the activation of these receptors by binding with Liraglutide may have many beneficial effects including neuroprotection.

Unlike our naturally occuring GLP-1 which is released by the gut after food, Liraglutide can stay in the circulation for a much longer period of time, yet its activity when bound to GLP-1 receptors is comparable to that of our own GLP-1. With that in mind, and the fact that Liraglutide is already a fully marketed drug for type 2 Diabetes (i.e. it is known to be safe) Candeias et al (2015)* highlighted Liraglutide as an attractive option for further research.  Specifically, due to its vast potential benefits, including its anti-autophagy (cell self-destruction), anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and neuroprotective effects it is an appealing treatment candidate in neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

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*Emanuel Monteiro Candeias, Inês Carolina Sebastião, Susana Maria Cardoso, Sónia Catarina Correia, Cristina Isabel Carvalho, Ana Isabel Plácido, Maria Sancha Santos, Catarina Resende Oliveira, Paula Isabel Moreira and Ana Isabel Duarte