Medical Technology

Could Viagra Help Prevent Alzheimer’s?

The erectile dysfunction medication Viagra could potentially be utilized as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease according to the findings of a new study published in the journal Nature Aging.

Patients who took sildenafil sildenafil, which is the generic name for Viagra was 69% less likely to develop the disease than people who didn’t.

“Sildenafil has been demonstrated to significantly enhance memory and cognition in preclinical models, is presented as the best candidate for a drug,” Feixiong Cheng, PhD, the study’s lead author at Cleveland Clinic’s Genomic Medicine Institute, said in an announcement.

“Notably we found that sildenafil use reduced the likelihood of Alzheimer’s in individuals with coronary artery disease, hypertension and type 2 diabetes All of which are significant comorbidities linked to the risk of developing the disease, as well as in those who aren’t,” he said.

Alzheimer’s is the most frequent form of dementia that affects the elderly and affects a multitude of millions. Nearly 14 million Americans will be affected by the disease in 2050. It isn’t currently being treated.

Cheng and his colleagues from Cheng and his colleagues at the Cleveland Clinic used large gene-mapping networks to determine whether more than 1,600 FDA approved drugs are effective in fighting Alzheimer’s. The drugs that target both amyloid- and tau-proteins in the brain were rewarded with higher scores. These are two of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. Sildenafil appeared at the top of the list.

Then the researchers utilized a database of health insurance claims for more than 7 million people in the U.S. to understand the relationship between sildenafil and Alzheimer’s-related disease outcomes. They compared sildenafil users with non-users, and found that those who took the drug were 69 percent less likely to suffer from the neurodegenerative disease after six years of follow-up.

The research team then designed an in-lab model that shows sildenafil’s effects on brain cell growth and targeted tau protein. This model can be used to demonstrate how the drug affects brain changes associated with the disease.

Cheng cautioned against drawing too many conclusions. The study doesn’t prove the causality between sildenafil and Alzheimer’s disease. To test the drug’s effectiveness researchers must conduct clinical trials using a placebo.

Others have said that the findings offer a new avenue for research, but they don’t yet have solid answers.

“Being capable of repurposing a drug that is approved for certain health conditions could speed up the process of discovering new drugs and help bring about new treatments for dementia earlier.” Susan Kohlhaas (Doctor of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK), stated to the Science Media Centre.

She said, “Importantly this research does not prove that sildenafil decreases the risk of dementia or slows or stops the progression of the disease.” “If you want to discuss any treatment that you’re receiving, the first step is to talk to your doctor.”

And doctors won’t likely recommend it as a treatment yet either.

“While these data may be fascinating scientifically, based upon this study, I wouldn’t be rushing to begin sildenafil use as a preventative for Alzheimer’s disease.” Tara Spires Jones, PhD, deputy director of Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences at University of Edinburgh, told Science Media Centre.

Sources:

Nature Aging: “Endophenotype-based in silico network medicine discovery combined with data mining from insurance records identifies sildenafil as a candidate treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Cleveland Clinic Research Finds Sildenafil as a possible candidate drug for Alzheimer’s Disease.”

Science Media Centre: “Expert reaction to study that identified sildenafil (Viagra) as a potential drug to treat Alzheimer’s disease.”

Content Source: https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/964389?src=rss

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