Sildenafil (better known as “Viagra” and “Revatio”) is associated with a significant 69% reduction in the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new US study. Therefore, according to scientists, it could be a new treatment option against this incurable neurodegenerative disease that is the leading cause of dementia in the elderly worldwide, affecting hundreds of millions of people.
Sildenafil has been used to date mainly to treat erectile dysfunction in men as well as pulmonary arterial hypertension. The researchers, led by Dr. Feijing Cheng of the Cleveland Clinic’s Institute of Genomic Medicine in Ohio, published their findings in the journal Nature Aging using a computational method to better combine genetic and other biological data. the biological “signatures” of Alzheimer’s disease.
They then analyzed more than 1,600 approved drugs to find the ones that seemed to best fit Alzheimer’s biological-protein “profile.” They ended up giving one of the highest scores to sildenafil, which means that this drug seems to have the potential to have a positive effect on the disease.
In the next step, the scientists analyzed medical and insurance records of more than seven million people, finding that sildenafil was associated with a significant 69% reduction in the risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s over a six-year period. Sildenafil was found to be associated with a 55% lower risk of Alzheimer’s than the antihypertensive drug losartan (losartan) and a 63% lower risk of metformin (both of which are already being tested for Alzheimer’s disease).
According to Cheng, “we found that sildenafil use reduced the risk of Alzheimer’s in both people with coronary heart disease, hypertension and type 2 diabetes, all of which are comorbidities associated with Alzheimer’s, and in people without the condition.”
The accumulation of beta amyloid and Tau proteins in the brain leads to the formation of pathological plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, two characteristic “signatures” of Alzheimer’s disease. Recent studies have shown that the interaction between beta amyloid and tau protein contributes to neurodegeneration of the brain more than either of these two factors alone. Sildenafil, as shown in animal studies, targets precisely this interaction at the molecular level.
The researchers highlighted the need for randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials in both sexes to confirm the effectiveness of the drug against Alzheimer’s disease.
As Dr. Cheng noted, because the study’s findings currently show only a correlation between sildenafil use and reduced risk of Alzheimer’s, a randomized phase 2 clinical trial is being designed to test the cause-effect relationship and confirm its clinical benefits. of this drug in Alzheimer’s patients. The possibility of using the drug in other neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is also being considered.
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