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May Viagra Assist Stop Alzheimer’s?

By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Dec. 6, 2021 (HealthDay Information) — Viagra, a drug lengthy used to deal with erectile dysfunction, might double as a possible weapon in opposition to Alzheimer’s disease, a brand new examine suggests.

Taking a look at information on greater than 7 million People, researchers discovered that these taking the drug have been 69% much less more likely to develop Alzheimer’s, when in comparison with non-users.

Then, in lab experiments, the investigators confirmed that the medicine appeared to focus on a part of the underlying illness course of in Alzheimer’s.

Nonetheless, the findings mustn’t ship anybody working to the physician for a Viagra prescription, the researchers cautioned.

However they do argue for clinical trials to check the drug in opposition to Alzheimer’s, mentioned senior researcher Feixiong Cheng, of Cleveland Clinic’s Genomic Medication Institute.

Viagra, bought generically as sildenafil, was permitted over 20 years in the past for treating erectile dysfunction. Sildenafil was later permitted below a unique model title (Revatio) for pulmonary hypertension, a type of high blood pressure affecting the lungs.

The drug works by inhibiting a protein known as phosphodiesterase-5, which in flip permits blood vessels to chill out and widen, bettering blood move.

However phosphodiesterases additionally exist within the mind, Cheng mentioned. And up to date lab analysis has instructed sildenafil might inhibit the irregular protein buildup that could be a hallmark of Alzheimer’s illness. In lab mice engineered to have an Alzheimer’s-like situation, sildenafil has proven motion in opposition to these proteins, and boosted reminiscence and brain-cell formation.

The brand new findings, revealed on-line Dec. 6 within the journal Nature Getting old, bolster the case for finding out the drug as an Alzheimer’s therapy, Cheng mentioned.

If that occurs, sildenafil would be part of a rising checklist of permitted medication that researchers hope to “repurpose” as therapies for Alzheimer’s.

Medicines for situations starting from diabetes to hypertension to cancer are already being investigated for that very objective, mentioned Dr. Howard Fillit, founding govt director of the nonprofit Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Basis.

The inspiration was amongst a number of funders of the present examine, the first one being the U.S. Nationwide Institutes of Well being.

Fillit agreed that the findings ought to assist transfer sildenafil into Alzheimer’s trials. In the end, he mentioned, everybody believes it can take a number of approaches, and mixtures of medicines, to battle a illness as advanced as Alzheimer’s.

“We’ll want a number of therapies to focus on the completely different ways in which issues go fallacious within the mind in Alzheimer’s,” Fillit defined.

Repurposing permitted drugs has apparent benefits over ranging from scratch to develop new therapies. Authorized medication have a recognized security observe report, and they are often delivered to trials comparatively rapidly, with much less expense.

After all, Fillit mentioned, there must be a rationale for selecting which medication to repurpose.

For the most recent examine, Cheng’s crew began with the premise that medication affecting two proteins — amyloid and tau — would have the best potential in opposition to Alzheimer’s. The illness is marked by an irregular clumping of these proteins within the mind, generally referred to as plaques and tangles.

Analysis has proven, Cheng mentioned, that the interplay between amyloid and tau is extra essential than both alone within the Alzheimer’s course of.

His crew screened over 1,600 permitted drugs, utilizing genetic and different organic information, and ultimately landed on sildenafil as the perfect candidate as a potential Alzheimer’s remedy.

Subsequent they used medical insurance claims from over 7 million People to see whether or not sildenafil customers have been at decrease threat of Alzheimer’s. And on common, they have been 69% much less more likely to be identified with the mind illness over six years, versus non-users.

The lowered threat was seen amongst individuals with coronary heart illness, hypertension or diabetes — all threat components for dementia — in addition to individuals with out these situations, Cheng mentioned.

Sildenafil customers even had a decrease Alzheimer’s threat compared in opposition to individuals on the blood stress drug losartan or the diabetes medicine metformin — each at present below examine for battling dementia.

Lastly, in experiments with cells taken from Alzheimer’s sufferers, the researchers discovered that sildenafil appeared to inhibit tau and help mind cell progress.

“This helps the conduct of a scientific trial, after which we’ll have a solution,” Fillit mentioned. “We can’t know till we now have trials.”

And though most present sildenafil customers are males, these trials ought to embrace each sexes, Cheng’s crew identified.

For now, Fillit mentioned individuals will help shield their mind well being by life-style selections, together with common train, consuming a nutritious diet, not smoking and getting situations corresponding to hypertension and diabetes below management.

“That is good not solely to your coronary heart, however your mind, as nicely,” he mentioned.

Extra info

The Alzheimer’s Affiliation has extra on Alzheimer’s risk reduction.

SOURCES: Feixiong Cheng, PhD, assistant workers, Genomic Medication Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Ohio; Howard Fillit, MD, founding govt director, chief science officer, Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Basis, New York Metropolis; Nature Getting old, Dec. 6, 2021, on-line