Viagra may help prevent the onset of a common form of dementia, scientists believe. Tadalafil – an erectile dysfunction drug similar to Viagra – is being tested on British volunteers to see whether the treatment increases blood flow to the brain. Experts at St George’s University of London hope the treatment could be used to help prevent or slow down the onset of vascular dementia, which affects 150,000 people in the UK.
Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease, causing memory, speech and concentration problems.

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The problem is caused when blood vessels become diseased, restricting blood flow to the brain.
Scientists are working on the theory erectile dysfunction drugs such as Viagra and Tadalafil – which work by expanding blood vessels and improving blood flow to the genitals – may also improve blood flow to the brain.
They have already conducted trials with 24 people in London, with another 30 due to take part in the coming months, using high-tech scanners to measure blood flow. If their results, expected to be published later this year, show the drug helps blood get to the brain, the researchers are due to launch a second trial which will test whether it improves cognition.

Research leader Dr Atticus Hainsworth, speaking to the Mail at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Toronto, said: ‘This initiative is to use existing medicines, which are well understood and safe, and to see whether we can use them for a different purpose.

‘Our study at the moment is simply to ask whether it increases blood flow to the brain. It does have side effects if you take too much, but it is essentially safe and it is much-used in the sort of age group we are hoping to target.’
He added: ‘The drug is in your blood for about 24 hours so we would only need one pill a day.
‘The longer term blue-sky scenario is if it does improve blood flow to the brain we need to see whether mental function is maintained for longer if people take this drug for six months.
‘We hope it would either prevent or slow down vascular dementia.’

Experts are increasingly interested in the role existing drugs can play in the fight against dementia.
Millions have been spent on developing new treatments for dementia – but so far experts are yet to find a drug which can truly alter the course of the disease.
After a series of high-profile disappointments, research bodies are starting to turn to existing drugs to see whether they can help.
The Alzheimer’s Society in Britain and the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation in New York have co-funded the £328,000 trial in a bid to repurpose existing drugs.
Dr James Pickett, head of research at Alzheimer’s Society said: ‘Testing drugs already in use for other conditions is a priority for Alzheimer’s Society – it could allow us to short cut the 15 years or so needed to develop a new dementia drug from scratch.

Source : www.dailymail.com