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Widely-Used ED Drug May Be an Effective Treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease

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A recent study1 by researchers at the Cleveland Clinic has identified sildenafil as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

The study used data analysis to review insurance records for 7.23 million individuals to identify drugs which showed a negative correlation with the incicence of Alzheimer’s disease. Sildenafil was the strongest candidate identified. Men regularly taking sildenafil showed a 69% reduced risk of Alzheimer’s. The study was adjusted for age, race, and disease comorbidities.

Sildenafil is the generic form of Viagra and is widely used for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. It belongs to a class of medications called phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE-5) inhibitors. These medicines prevent an enzyme called phosphodiesterase type-5 from working too quickly. Sildenafil may also be used to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH).

The results of the study are extremely preliminary. The association between sildenafil use and decreased incidence of AD does not establish causality, which will require a randomized controlled trial.


References

  1. Fang, Jiansong; Zhang, Pengyue; Zhou, Yadi; Chiang, Chien-Wei; Tan, Juan; Hou, Yuan; Stauffer, Shaun; Li, Lang; Pieper, Andrew A; Cummings, Jeffrey; Cheng, Feixiong. “Endophenotype-based in silico network medicine discovery combined with insurance record data mining identifies sildenafil as a candidate drug for Alzheimer’s disease.” Nature Aging. Dec 2021.
    <https://doi.org/10.1038/s43587-021-00138-z>

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