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 disease, a brand new examine suggests.

knowledge on greater than 7 million Individuals, 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 shouldn’t ship anybody operating to the physician for a Viagra prescription, the researchers cautioned.

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

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

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

However phosphodiesterases additionally exist within the mind, Cheng mentioned. And up to date lab analysis has advised 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, printed on-line Dec. 6 within the journal Nature Growing old, bolster the case for finding out the drug as an Alzheimer’s remedy, Cheng mentioned.

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

Drugs for situations starting from diabetes to hypertension to cancer are already being investigated for that very function, 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. Finally, he mentioned, everybody believes it is going to take a number of approaches, and combos of medicines, to battle a illness as complicated 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 accepted drugs has apparent benefits over ranging from scratch to develop new therapies. Authorised medication have a identified security observe document, and they are often dropped at trials comparatively rapidly, with much less expense.

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

For the most recent examine, Cheng’s group 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 known as plaques and tangles.

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

His group screened over 1,600 accepted drugs, utilizing genetic and different organic knowledge, and ultimately landed on sildenafil as one of the best candidate as a attainable Alzheimer’s remedy.

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

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

Sildenafil customers even had a decrease Alzheimer’s danger when put next towards folks on the blood strain drug losartan or the diabetes medicine metformin — each at the moment 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 development.

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

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

For now, Fillit mentioned folks might help defend their mind well being by way of life-style selections, together with common train, consuming a nutritious diet, not smoking and getting situations comparable to hypertension and diabetes below management.

“That is good not solely to your coronary heart, however your mind, as effectively,” 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 Growing old, Dec. 6, 2021, on-line