Study of dementia drugs: Viagra could help against Alzheimer’s

Study of Dementia Drugs
Viagra could help against Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia. So far, the disease has hardly been treatable. But a new study raises hope for a new treatment option – with a drug that is normally used for something completely different.

More than 100 years ago, the doctor Alois Alzheimer discovered a disease that is still incurable and difficult to treat. Millions of people around the world have Alzheimer’s disease for which there is no effective treatment. However, a new study gives cause for hope: According to it, Viagra could turn out to be a new treatment option for Alzheimer’s disease.

The one in the magazine “Nature Aging” published study shows a link between sildenafil and Alzheimer’s disease. Sildenafil – the active ingredient in the potency pill Viagra – was discovered by accident as a useful agent in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Originally, the active ingredient was thought to be a new heart drug. Sildenafil is also used to treat pulmonary hypertension and could potentially be used to treat Alzheimer’s patients in the future.

Using a large gene mapping network, researchers at Cleveland Clinic’s Genomic Medicine Institute examined genetic and other data to find out whether drugs that were already approved could work in Alzheimer’s patients. The researchers analyzed 1,600 drugs that are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The scientists were specifically looking for drugs that act on two particular characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease: Amyloid and dew. People with Alzheimer’s disease often have protein deposits – mainly because the amyloid and dew only function to a limited extent. Amyloid breaks down protein in healthy brains. Tau, on the other hand, is responsible for cell stability and the supply of nutrients. Drugs that strengthen both aspects received more points from the researchers than drugs that only target one or the other effect.

“The best drug candidate”

The result of the investigation shows: The most promising is the active ingredient in the Viagra pill. “Sildenafil, which has been shown to improve cognition and memory significantly in preclinical models, turned out to be the best drug candidate,” said Feixiong Cheng, head of the study, the British “Guardian”.

The researchers then used a database of insurance data from more than seven million people in the United States to investigate the link between sildenafil and the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. They compared sildenafil users with people not taking the drug and found significant differences: Sildenafil users were 69 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than non-sildenafil users.

Closer investigation found that sildenafil promotes brain cell growth and specifically targets tau proteins – the very protein that supplies nutrients to cells in the brain. The head of the study, Cheng, points out, however in dem “Guardian”-Interview indicated that the study cannot prove a causal link between sildenafil and Alzheimer’s disease. Further clinical studies with a placebo control in both sexes are needed to determine the effectiveness of sildenafil.

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