Erectile Dysfunction Drug Investigated For Dementia

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Researchers will examine whether an erectile dysfunction drug may also be useful in treating a type of dementia.

Atticus Hainsworth, a neuroscientist at St. George’s, University of London, United Kingdom,  and colleagues will conduct research into whether tadalafil (Cialis) can prevent vascular dementia by increasing blood flow to the brain. The condition is considered the second most common type of dementia, after Alzheimer’s disease.

Vascular dementia is caused by damage to small blood vessels in the brain, leading to reduced blood flow to tissue. The damage, known as small vessel disease, is found in the brains of between 50% and 70% of seniors. The researchers are hoping that tadalafil, which works by increasing blood flow in penile tissue, can do the same, but in the brain.

“As there are very few drugs for the management of dementia, we want to know whether a well-known, well-tolerated drug can be used to help patients with this particular type of dementia,” Hainsworth said in a statement.

The research will be conducted as part of a trans-Atlantic partnership funded by the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation and the Alzheimer’s Society UK. A separate study, also funded by the two groups, will examine whether experimental diabetes drugs can reverse the onset of Alzheimer’s.

Erectile Dysfunction Drug Investigated For Treating Dementia
Erectile Dysfunction Drug Investigated For Treating Dementia

Scientists are to explore whether drugs usually used to treat erectile problems by expanding blood vessels could become the next major way to tackle the dementia epidemic.

Experts led by Atticus Hainsworth at St George's, University of London, will explore whether tadalafil, which is a drug in the same class as Viagra, could help prevent vascular dementia by increasing blood flow to the brain.

Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia and is often caused by damage to the small blood vessels of the brain leading to reduced blood flow to brain tissue. This blood vessel damage, known as small vessel disease, is seen in the brains of 50-70% of elderly people. 

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