Viagra – the blue pill – is normally prescribed as an erectile dysfunction drug. | Photo credit: iStock Images

Highlights

  • Viagra, also known as sildenafil, was originally developed as a medicine for the heart due to its primary action – improving blood circulation by relaxing or widening blood vessels.
  • Sildenafil is also sometimes used (in men and women) to treat pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the blood vessels that supply the lungs).
  • Now, researchers at the Cleveland Clinic say the drug may be helpful in the prevention and treatment of brain-related illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease has so far been an incurable and irreversible health problem that causes a gradual deterioration in the brain’s ability to process issues involving cognitive skills. The build-up of beta-amyloid and tau proteins in the brain leads to the formation of amyloid plaques and tau neurofibrillary tangles, two hallmarks of brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

The Viagra impotence pill may be a useful treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, according to researchers in the United States who have studied its effects on the brain.

A new study by the Cleveland Clinic has identified sildenafil – an FDA-approved treatment for erectile dysfunction (Viagra) and pulmonary hypertension (Revatio) – as a promising drug candidate to help prevent and treat disease. ‘Alzheimer’s.

Tests in cells suggest that the drug targets some of the proteins that build up in this type of dementia.

Huge sample size and test data:
The Cleveland team also analyzed a database of 7 million patients and found that men who took the drug had a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

According to the results published in Nature Aging, the research team, led by Feixiong Cheng, PhD, of the Genomic Medicine Institute at the Cleveland Clinic, used a computational methodology to screen and validate drugs approved by the FDA as potential therapies. for Alzheimer’s disease. Through a large-scale analysis of a database of over 7 million patients, they determined that sildenafil is associated with a 69% reduction in the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease, indicating the need for follow-up clinical trials on the efficacy of the drug in patients with the disease disease.

What is Viagra?
According to a BBC report, “The blue pill – the trademark Viagra, also known as sildenafil, was originally designed as a medicine for the heart due to its primary action – improving blood circulation by relaxing or widening the blood vessels.

“Doctors then discovered that it had a similar effect elsewhere in the body, including the arteries in the penis, and it was developed into an effective treatment for erectile dysfunction,” the BBC report said.

According to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), “Sildenafil is a drug used to treat erectile dysfunction. It increases blood flow to the penis to help men get an erection. At least two-thirds of men have an improved erection after taking it.

“Sildenafil is also sometimes used (in men and women) to treat pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the blood vessels that supply the lungs).

“This medication is available by prescription and can also be purchased at most drugstores. It comes in the form of swallowable tablets, chewable tablets, and liquid to drink.”

What are the main findings of the Cleveland Clinic’s research?

  1. High doses of the drug (larger than a person would normally take) increased brain cell growth and reduced protein buildup in human tissue lab studies.
  2. Patients who took sildenafil were observed to be less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those who did not take the drug, based on personal medical data spanning six years and involving over 7.23 million people. .

To celebrate or wait and watch?
Cleveland Clinic principal investigator Dr Feixiong Cheng said the results were encouraging but needed further study: “Because our results only establish an association between the use of sildenafil and a reduced incidence of the disease. Alzheimer’s disease, we are now planning a mechanistic trial and a phase II randomized clinical trial to test the causality and confirm the clinical benefits of sildenafil for patients with Alzheimer’s disease. “

But the BBC report says the medical fraternity is cautious in approaching this new discovery, as there have been instances where certain drugs don’t quite live up to the initial hype and euphoria. Dr Jack Auty, Senior Lecturer in Medical Sciences at the University of Tasmania, told BBC.com: ‘In the area of ​​Alzheimer’s disease research we have been excited about many drugs over the years. years, but our hopes for clinical trials have been dashed. I will be following this research group and the research on sildenafil closely. “

The BBC also quotes UK brain research expert Professor Tara Spiers-Jones of the University of Edinburgh as saying: ‘More work will be needed to find out whether this drug can actually reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease … Although these data are scientifically interesting, based on this study, I would not rush to start taking sildenafil for prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. “

Meanwhile, the Cleveland Clinic principal investigator on the said project – Dr Cheng said, “We also anticipate that our approach will be applied to other neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, to accelerate the drug discovery process. “

Disclaimer: The tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or dietitian before starting a fitness program or making any changes to your diet.


Source link