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Unexpected defenders against dementia: Viagra and good vision

Sildenafil, a drug for the treatment of erectile dysfunction, commonly known under the trade name Viagra, has shown promising results as a candidate drug for the treatment and prevention of … Alzheimer’s disease.

A large-scale analysis of a database containing information on more than seven million patients showed that sildenafil was somehow associated with a 69% reduction in the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease.

This unexpected result indicates the need for clinical trials of the drug’s efficacy in patients with this disease.

Recall that two characteristic changes in the structure of the brain are associated with Alzheimer’s disease: the accumulation beta-amyloid and tau squirrelleading to the formation of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles.

However, there are currently no approved treatments for Alzheimer’s disease that target amyloids or tau, and many clinical trials of such treatments have failed over the past decade.

Meanwhile, unless new effective treatments for the disease are developed, Alzheimer’s will affect tens of millions of people by 2050.

Therefore, scientists are actively looking for and developing new strategies for the prevention and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases that significantly worsen the lives of patients themselves, as well as their environment.

Drug “reassignment” is the use of an existing drug to new therapeutic targets – is an alternative method of finding new treatment options. It opposes the costly and time consuming traditional process of creating, testing and bringing new drugs to market.

This very promising method was used by specialists from the Cleveland Clinic in their new work.

The researchers combined genetic and other biological data to determine which of more than 1,600 FDA-approved drugs could be effective in treating Alzheimer’s disease.

Scientists have determined that drugs targeting both amyloids and tau protein are more effective than drugs targeting only one of these substances.

As a result, sildenafil, which has been shown in preclinical models (in studies without human participation), significantly improves cognition and memory, was presented as the best “drug candidate” for Alzheimer’s disease.

“Remarkably, we found that using sildenafil reduced the likelihood of Alzheimer’s disease in people with coronary artery disease, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes. [болезни Альцгеймера] […]”, – noted Dr. Feyun Chen (Feixiong Cheng) from the Cleveland Clinic.

The study authors plan to begin a second phase of clinical trials that will help test causality and confirm the clinical benefits of sildenafil for patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers also hope that their approach will be useful for finding cures for other neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Results of a new study were published in Nature Aging.

The development of Alzheimer’s disease provokes … cataracts?

Based on data from a new study, Adult Changes in Thought (ACT), researchers found that patients who underwent cataract surgery had an almost 30% lower risk of developing dementia for any reason than those who did not complete the corresponding operation.

The reduced risk of disease persisted for at least ten years after surgery. Surgical treatment cataracts have also been associated with a lower risk of dementia in Alzheimer’s disease.

The mechanisms linking cataract removal and reducing the risk of dementia were not identified in this study.

The authors of the work suggest that after cataract surgery, people receive more high-quality visual information. In theory, this could have a positive effect in reducing the risk of dementia. After all, the brain in this case works more actively.

Another hypothesis is that after cataract surgery, more blue light enters the retinal cells of people.

“Some specific cells in the retina are associated with cognition and regulate sleep cycles, and these cells respond well to blue light, – explains lead author Cecilia Lee (Cecilia S Lee) from the University of Washington School of Medicine. “Cataracts block blue light, and cataract surgery can reactivate those cells.”

Results of the second study were published in the scientific journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

This work also indicates that scientists should continue to study the relationship between the work of the organs of vision and the brain in relation to the possible development of dementia. Understanding this connection can expand scientists’ understanding of the human brain and help develop treatments and prevention of age-related dementia.

More news from the world of science and medicine can be found in the sections “Science” and “Medicine“on the media platform “Watching”.

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