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Viagra-like drug 'could be next dementia treatment'

Viagra-like drug 'could be next dementia treatment'
11th December 2014

A drug commonly used to treat men with erection problems could become the next treatment for dementia.

The Alzheimer's Society and Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation are funding research into the effectiveness of Tadafil - part of the same class of drugs as Viagra - in a new cross-Atlantic research project.

Scientists at the University of London are to study whether the drug, which works by dilating blood vessels, could help prevent vascular dementia by increasing blood flow to the brain.

This condition, which is the second most common form of dementia in the UK, causes damage to the small blood vessels of the brain, reducing the blood flow to brain tissue.

Known as small vessel disease, this damage is seen in the brains of 50-70 per cent of older people. It is hoped that the drug's ability to boost blood flow could prevent the damage that leads to vascular dementia.

In addition, the partnership is to fund research exploring whether an experimental diabetes drug could help reverse the onset of Alzheimer's.

Research by Lancaster University's Professor Christian Holscher has shown that liraglutide could reverse memory loss and the build-up of plaques in the brain characteristic of Alzheimer's.

Professor Holscher will lead a new study to investigate whether two new, more potent diabetes drugs have the same or more significant effect on Alzheimer's.

Dr Doug Brown, director of research and development at Alzheimer's Society, said: "Drug development can take decades and sadly, the path towards developing dementia treatments over the past decade is littered with drugs that have failed in clinical trials. 

"As we learn more about the causes of dementia and its links to other conditions, there is hope that treatments we routinely use for other diseases may also work for people with dementia."

The research grants form part of the Alzheimer's Society's flagship Drug Discovery programme, which focuses on repurposing - testing existing treatments for other conditions to see whether they are effective in treating dementia.

Find out more about Alzheimer's disease care at Barchester homes.