Might 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, could double as a possible weapon towards Alzheimer’s illness, a brand new examine suggests.

Taking a look at knowledge on greater than 7 million People, researchers discovered that these taking the drug had been 69% much less prone 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 shouldn’t ship anybody working to the physician for a Viagra prescription, the researchers cautioned.

However they do argue for scientific trials to check the drug towards Alzheimer’s, mentioned senior researcher Feixiong Cheng, of Cleveland Clinic’s Genomic Drugs Institute.

Viagra, offered generically as sildenafil, was authorised over 20 years in the past for treating erectile dysfunction. Sildenafil was later authorised underneath a unique model title (Revatio) for pulmonary hypertension, a type of hypertension affecting the lungs.

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

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

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

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

Medicines for circumstances starting from diabetes to hypertension to most cancers are already being investigated for that very function, mentioned Dr. Howard Fillit, founding government director of the nonprofit Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Basis.

The muse 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 should 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 unsuitable within the mind in Alzheimer’s,” Fillit defined.

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

In fact, Fillit mentioned, there must be a rationale for selecting which medication to repurpose.

For the newest examine, Cheng’s crew began with the premise that medication affecting two proteins — amyloid and tau — would have the best potential towards Alzheimer’s. The illness is marked by an irregular clumping of these proteins within the mind, generally often called plaques and tangles.

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

His crew screened over 1,600 authorised medicines, utilizing genetic and different organic knowledge, and finally landed on sildenafil as the most effective 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 had been at decrease threat of Alzheimer’s. And on common, they had been 69% much less prone to be identified with the mind illness over six years, versus non-users.

The decreased threat was seen amongst folks with coronary heart illness, hypertension or diabetes — all threat elements for dementia — in addition to folks with out these circumstances, Cheng mentioned.

Sildenafil customers even had a decrease Alzheimer’s threat when put next towards folks on the blood stress drug losartan or the diabetes medicine metformin — each at the moment underneath examine for battling dementia.

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

“This helps the conduct of a scientific trial, after which we’ll have a solution,” Fillit mentioned. “We cannot know till now we 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 folks may help defend their mind well being by way of way of life decisions, together with common train, consuming a nutritious diet, not smoking and getting circumstances equivalent to hypertension and diabetes underneath management.

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

Extra info

The Alzheimer’s Affiliation has extra on Alzheimer’s threat discount.

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

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