This existing drug may help treat dementia

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

In a new study from St George’s and elsewhere, researchers found tadalafil, a drug closely related to Viagra, may be effective in treating people with vascular dementia.

Dementia is an escalating global healthcare challenge, estimated to affect 55 million people worldwide, increasing to 139 million by 2050.

There are few treatment options for patients, and the new trial explored whether repurposing an existing drug, tadalafil, may have the potential for treating vascular dementia—a common type of dementia in which there is reduced blood flow to the brain.

Previous research found that sildenafil (Viagra) and vardenafil, drugs commonly used to increase blood flow in erectile dysfunction and in pulmonary hypertension (a form of lung disease), could be possible candidates for preventing or delaying dementia.

Tadalafil belongs to the same group of drugs, and the researchers hypothesize that the mechanisms that increase blood flow in other parts of the body, may also apply in the brain—providing brain cells with a healthier blood supply and reducing dementia symptoms.

Tadalafil was selected as the drug candidate for the trial because of its longer half-life (remaining in the bloodstream for longer) and evidence that it is better able to enter the brain, than its related drugs.

In the study, the team found a trend for increased blood flow in older participants (those aged over 70) in the white matter of the brain, which is the area most important for vascular dementia.

No serious adverse events were recorded during the trial.

The research team believes the further investigation of tadalafil should be considered to explore its effectiveness in older age groups over a longer time period.

If you care about dementia, please read studies about walking patterns may help identify specific types of dementia, and common high blood pressure drugs may help lower your dementia risk.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about this tooth disease linked to dementia, and results showing this MIND diet may protect your cognitive function, prevent dementia.

The study is published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia and was conducted by Dr. Jeremy Isaacs et al.

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