DEC 15, 2021 5:00 PM PST

New study launches Viagra into the spotlight as the next drug to treat Alzheimer's disease

WRITTEN BY: J. Bryce Ortiz

recent study, published in the journal Nature Aging, reaffirmed the role of Sildenafil (brand name Viagra) in treating Alzheimer’s Disease. Sildenafil is more commonly known as a drug prescribed to treat erectile dysfunction in men. However, Sildenafil was originally designed and studies to treat hypertension or high blood pressure. But through drug repurposing, the drug was marketed and prescribed to treat erectile dysfunction. Now, researchers are hoping to repurpose Sildenafil again in the hopes that it can effectively treat Alzheimer’s disease. 

Alzheimer’s disease is a debilitating disease that affects over 6.2 millions Americans aged 65 and older, and their families. Worldwide, it is believed there are over 38 million people living with dementia associated with Alzheimer’s disease and this number is expected to double in the next decade. There are currently 5 drugs marketed, in the United States, to treat the cognitive deficits associated with Alzheimer’s disease and there is a significant push by many pharmaceutical companies to develop new drugs to combat the disease. 

Because of this, researchers from the Cleveland Clinical used high-level computations to screen a large database of patients. The database contained data from over seven million patients and also provided a list of prescription drugs that each patient was prescribed. Through this large-scale analysis of the database, the researchers found that individuals who were taking Sildenafil had a 69% reduced incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. Because of this, the authors believe that Sildenafil can be repurposed – which refers to the process by which an existing drug can be used for a new therapeutic purpose – to treat Alzheimer’s Disease. 

This study is supported by work in preclinical animal models of Alzheimer’s disease which have consistentlyshown the benefit of Sildenafil in improving disease-related outcomes. Dr. Feixiong Cheng, the lead researchers on the study, said, “Because our findings only establish an association between sildenafil use and reduced incidence of Alzheimer’s disease, we are now planning a mechanistic trial and a phase II randomized clinical trail to test causality and confirm sildenafil’s clinical benefits.”

 

Sources: natureLabrootsAlzheimer's AssociationJournal of Alzheimer's Disease Reports Cleveland clinic

About the Author
PhD in Neuroscience
Science and medical writer | Researcher | Interested in the intersection between translational science, drug development, and policy
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