This common water pill may help treat Alzheimer’s disease

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In a new study from the National Institute on Aging, researchers found a commonly available oral diuretic pill approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration may be a potential candidate for an Alzheimer’s disease treatment for those who are at genetic risk.

They found that those who took bumetanide—a commonly used and potent diuretic—had a much lower prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease compared to those not taking the drug.

In the study, the team analyzed information in databases of brain tissue samples and FDA-approved drugs, performed mouse and human cell experiments, and explored human population studies to identify bumetanide as a leading drug candidate that may potentially be repurposed to treat Alzheimer’s.

Knowing that one of the most significant genetic risk factors for late-onset Alzheimer’s is a form of the apolipoprotein E gene called APOE4, researchers analyzed data derived from 213 brain tissue samples.

They identified the Alzheimer’s gene expression signatures, the levels to which genes are turned on or off, specific to APOE4 carriers.

Next, they compared the APOE4-specific Alzheimer’s signatures against those of more than 1,300 known FDA-approved drugs.

Five drugs emerged with a gene expression signature that the researchers believed might help neutralize the disease.

The strongest candidate was bumetanide, which is used to treat fluid retention often caused by medical problems such as heart, kidney, and liver disease.

The researchers found the effects in mouse and human cell-based models, which led to the hypothesis that people already taking bumetanide should have lower rates of Alzheimer’s.

To test this, the team pared down electronic health record data sets from more than 5 million people to two groups: adults over 65 who took bumetanide and a matching group who did not take bumetanide.

The analysis showed that those who had the genetic risk and took bumetanide had a 35% to 75% lower prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease compared to those not taking the drug.

The team says that Alzheimer’s disease will likely require specific types of treatments, perhaps multiple therapies, including some that may target an individual’s unique genetic and disease characteristics—much like cancer treatments that are available today.

The data in this study make a good case to conduct a proof-of-concept trial of bumetanide in people with genetic risk.

If you care about Alzheimer’s disease, please read studies about dad lifestyle habits can cause Alzheimer’s disease and findings of a new early sign of Alzheimer’s disease.

For more information about Alzheimer’s disease and your health, please see recent studies about a new way to effectively prevent Alzheimer’s disease and results showing that people with these mental issues may have Alzheimer’s disease early.

The study is published in Nature Aging. One author of the study is Richard J. Hodes, M.D.

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