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The active ingredient in viagra shows potential against Alzheimer’s

A group of researchers has identified sildenafil, the active substance used to treat erectile dysfunction and pulmonary hypertension under the brand names Viagra and Revatio, as a potential drug to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s.

The journal “Nature Aging” publishes this Monday the conclusions of a study in which the histories of more than seven million patients were analyzed to determine that sildenafil is associated with a 69% reduction in the incidence of Alzheimer’s.

The authors of the work, from the Institute of Genomic Medicine of the Cleveland Clinic, in the United States, emphasize the need to carry out clinical trials to support the conclusions of this computational analysis and to verify the efficacy of the drug in patients with the disease.

“This study is an example of a booming research area within precision medicine, in which ‘big data’ is key to connecting the dots between existing drugs and complex diseases like Alzheimer’s,” said Jean Yuan, a researcher at the National Institute on Aging (NIA), which has funded the research.

Scientists have found that the accumulation of beta amyloid and tau proteins leads to the formation of abnormal clumps and plaques in the brain, two of the main markers for the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

So far, none of the numerous clinical trials that have been conducted in the last decade with molecules that promised to counteract these processes have been successful.

“Recent studies indicate that the interaction between the (proteins) amyloid and tau contributes more to Alzheimer’s than either of the two alone,” said Feixiong Cheng, lead author of the paper published in “Nature Aging.”

Faced with this possibility, his team searched among more than 1,600 drugs already approved by health authorities in the United States for those that could have effects on both proteins at the same time.

“Sildenafil, which has been shown to significantly improve cognition and memory in preclinical models, was presented as the best candidate,” explained Cheng.

Their subsequent analysis determined that patients taking sidenafil had a 55% lower risk of developing the disease over six years compared to those taking losartan – a candidate for Alzheimer’s treatment – and 65% lower than those taking metformin.

“It is important to emphasize that we have determined that the use of sildephanyl reduced the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s in individuals with coronary artery disease, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes, all of which are comorbidities significantly associated with risk of the disease,” Cheng said.

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