Viagra and Cialis could be used to fight dementia, scientists believe. They have begun trials to see if the drug – normally used to treat erectile problems in men – could help stave off a common form of the disease.
Lead researcher Dr Atticus Hainsworth, of St George’s, University of London, said: ‘My colleagues and I are very enthusiastic about this trans-Atlantic initiative as there are too few drugs in the medicine cupboard for dementia. ‘We want to know whether a well-known, well-tolerated drug can be used to combat dementia, which has been called the twenty first century plague. ‘The drug tadalafil is widely used to increase blood flow in penile tissue. Now we’re asking whether it can do the same for another vital organ – the brain.’ Dr Doug Brown, of Alzheimer’s Society, added: ‘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. Worldwide, 35.6 million people have dementia and there are 7.7 million new cases every year, according to figures from the World Health Organization. +2 Worldwide, 35.6 million people have dementia and there are 7.7 million new cases every year, according to figures from the World Health Organization. ‘These incredibly exciting studies could see existing treatments turned into drugs for the most common forms of dementia in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost of developing new drugs from scratch. ‘By next year 850,000 people in the UK will have dementia and we owe it to them to do everything we can to develop better treatments and ultimately find a cure. Research like this is a huge part of that goal.’ Alzheimer’s Society is also funding research exploring whether an experimental diabetes drug could help reverse the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Professor Christian Holscher, of Lancaster University, has previously shown that diabetes drug Liraglutide could reverse memory loss and the build-up of plaques in the brain which lead to Alzheimer’s. The new study will follow up on this work.