Dementia breakthrough: Popular 78p tablet linked to ‘fewer cases’ of Alzheimer’s disease

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Dementia – an umbrella term for clusters of symptoms associated with brain decline – is fiendishly difficult to prevent or treat. That’s because much is still to be figured out about the brain’s machinery. However, new research raises the prospect of repurposing a common drug to fend off Alzheimer’s – the most common type of dementia.

Scientists have assessed several drugs for existing health conditions to explore their impact on dementia risk.

They found that use of sildenafil – common brand name Viagra – was linked to fewer dementia cases in American adults.

The research is published today in the scientific journal Nature Aging.

Doctor Susan Kohlhaas, Director of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“Developing drugs for diseases like Alzheimer’s, which attack the brain, is a costly process and can take many years. Being able to repurpose a drug already licensed for other health conditions could help speed up the drug discovery process and bring about life-changing dementia treatments sooner.

“While sildenafil is most well-known as a treatment for erectile dysfunction, it’s also used to treat high blood pressure in the lungs.

“In this study, researchers also found that its use is linked with fewer cases of Alzheimer’s disease in American adults.

“Due to the conditions Viagra (sildenafil) is predominantly prescribed for, most of the recipients of the drug were male. While the researchers did look at the effect of sildenafil on females, there isn’t enough information to be able to accurately draw conclusions about its effect in females, which account for the majority of Alzheimer’s cases worldwide.”

Doctor Kohlhaas added: “The researchers have conducted lab-based experiments to give an indication as to why the drug may have impact diseases like Alzheimer’s, but these early-stage experiments would need follow-up in more thorough tests.

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