According to a new analysis, scientists have proposed that the little blue pill, also commonly referred to as the love drug, may in fact help increase a person’s brain health. Apart from that, it will cut the levels of certain toxic proteins that are linked to dementia.
To reach these conclusions experts analyzed data collected from 7.2 million UK adults and found that in fact, those who regularly used the drug had a far lower chance of developing Alzheimer’s over the next six years.
Using the findings which were published in the journal, Nature Aging, many Medics have said that it would still be considered incredibly soon to consider the drug in dementia treatments. However, these findings have led to planning for a new study that will test how sildenafil, the more generic version of the drug, could be used to assist early Alzheimer’s patients.
Another team from Cleveland Clinic examined whether any of the 1,600 approved drugs could potentially be used to tackle the underlying causes of Alzheimer’s. Their lead researcher, Dr. Feixiong Cheng, from Cleveland Clinic’s Genomic Medicine Institute said, “Sildenafil, which has been shown to significantly improve cognition and memory in preclinical models, presented as the best drug candidate.
He further added, “Sildenafil may have neuroprotective effects and reduce levels of toxic tau proteins.”
Currently, approximately 850,000 British people are suffering from Alzheimer and that number is bound to reach 1 million within a decade according to estimates. Two-thirds of dementia cases are linked to Alzheimer’s.
Dr. Jack Auty, a lecturer in the medical sciences at the University of Tasmania, noted, “This is exciting stuff.” He further added, “But we need further research. In the field of Alzheimer’s disease research, we have been excited by many drugs over the years, only to have our hopes dashed in clinical trials.”
Similarly, Dr. Catherine Hall, a senior lecturer in psychology at Sussex University, also spoke about how sildenafil could potentially help improve blood flow and by extension brainpower. Specifically, she said, “It does seem that the drug is doing something.” Noting further that “Sildenafil treatment is an exciting prospect for prevention of Alzheimer’s, but it is not clear how to best move on from this research.”
Finally, she added, “Is it feasible to treat everyone with sildenafil for years before they are likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, or would this cause more problems than it solves.”
These statements have been echoed by many scientists as the current data is relatively generic and there is no decisive proof or guidance on how the drug could potentially be used to assist patients. This is why Dr. Susan Kohlhaas, from Alzheimer’s Research UK, expressed that these findings should be approached with caution.
On this, she said, “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.
“The researchers conducted lab-based experiments to give an indication as to why the drug may have impact [on] diseases like Alzheimer’s, but these early-stage experiments would need follow-up in more thorough tests.”
At the same time, many British researchers remain hopeful that Alzheimer’s may be reversible one day. This optimism stems in part from the discovery of a $19.88 vaccine that could be used for memory restoration.
Scientists noted their excitement after they saw the results that the vaccine testing on mice had. At the same time, in the US the first new drug for Alzheimer’s was approved in over 20 years. The approval of health officials came despite the controversy relating to the trial results. The Food and Drug Administration has given its official approval for Biogen to continue with the development of the drug.
While the evidence that is currently available is limited there are many different research groups and organizations that have shown interest in the use of the drug as part of Alzheimer’s treatment, but before such a step can be taken more extensive research will need to take place.