Like other cells in our body, our brain cells need to convert food into energy. The energy then can be used to make the molecules the brain cells need in order to function. Mitochondria are the part of the cell that converts glucose, the main fuel source for brain cells, into energy. How efficiently mitochondria convert glucose into energy may be related to keeping brain cells healthy. Impaired conversion of glucose into energy by brain cells seems to occur early in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Food for Thought
The connection between mitrochondrial function and brain function has prompted a new study by researchers at Rush University Medical Center. The clinical trial aims to find out whether a new drug can help people with early stage Alzheimer’s disease. The drug, MSDC-0160, is among a class of drugs that helps cells use glucose more efficiently and is being developed as a treatment for diabetes. The drug seems to work by helping mitochondria convert glucose into fuel for our brains.
“We are trying to determine if the drug improves the brain’s use of glucose,” says Raj C. Shah, MD, director of the Rush Memory Clinic at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center and principal investigator of the study. “We can measure glucose use in brain cells using a special brain imaging test.”
Preclinical studies suggest MSDC-0160 may reduce the changes in the brain produced by Alzheimer’s. As a result, Rush is following up with a trial to further evaluate the drug’s effectiveness in people with Alzheimer’s. Rush is the only medical center in the U.S. conducting the study.
For more information about the trial, please call (312) 563-4111.
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