Popular Erectile Dysfunction remedy drug shows success in reducing Alzheimer’s risk by 70%, study finds
Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic recently published a study that revealed that sildenafil, an erectile dysfunction medicine commonly known as Viagra can aid in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
According to the press release, the neurodegenerative illness, which presently has no treatment is expected to affect 13.8 million Americans by 2050. Because developing new treatments takes time and money, pharmaceutical researchers have turned to repurposing previously authorized pharmaceuticals.
Feixiong Cheng’s team at Cleveland’s Genomic Medicine Institute was looking at subgroups of neurodegenerative disorders to see whether there were any common processes that may be addressed with FDA-approved medicines.
In the case of Alzheimer’s disease, two proteins, namely beta-amyloid and tau, begin accumulating inside the brain, leading to clots and tangles. According to the press release, clinical experiments aimed at these proteins have failed.
A recent study has also revealed that the condition is caused by two proteins that function together. The researchers began investigating whether one of the approved medications could target both proteins at the same time, rather than just one.
Unexpectedly, Sildenafil received the highest marks. The researchers examined a database that had information on more than seven million people in the United States, as well as medications like losartan and metformin that are now being tested in clinical trials to treat Alzheimer’s disease.
According to the press release, after six years of follow-up, sildenafil users were 69 percent less likely to develop neurodegenerative illness. “We discovered that using sildenafil lowered the risk of Alzheimer’s disease among those who had coronary artery disease, hypertension or type 2 diabetes, all of which are comorbidities that are strongly linked to the condition,” Dr. Cheng explained.
To confirm their findings, the researchers used stem cells to make model cells of Alzheimer’s disease in the lab and treated them with sildenafil. The medicine did not only enhanced brain cell proliferation but it also reduced tau protein hyperphosphorylation, which leads to the tangles.
The researchers will now conduct a phase II randomized clinical trial to confirm their findings, after which the method will be applied to other neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).
“This is an example of a rising field of precision medicine research where big data is critical to connecting the dots between existing medications and complicated disorders,” said Jean Yuan of the National Institute on Aging. The research was published in the journal Nature Aging.
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