The close of 2014 brought exciting news for patients suffering from dementia with the announcement that Tadalafil, a commonly used drug that treats erectile dysfunction, is being tested as a treatment for dementia. The Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation and the Alzheimer’s Society UK shared the news of their partnership and funding, which would be earmarked for studying Tadalafil as a potential treatment to combat vascular dementia. This is the first study to be done using an erectile dysfunction (ED) drug as a possible therapy for dementia, and plans are underway to create a cross-Atlantic project. One goal set at the G8 summit on dementia was to ascertain a disease-modifying treatment for this devastating disease by 2025, which is now a decade away. Scientists from St. George’s University of London will be spearheading this research, going on the premise that the ability of Tadalafil to increase blood flow will translate to greater blood flow to the brain, thus combating vascular dementia. The study will begin by recruiting 50 patients, all over age 65 who have displayed blood vessel damage, also known as small vessel disease. The patients will also need be documented as experiencing at least mild memory loss. The research will be measured by testing the blood flow to the brain via an arterial spin labelling MRI. Both a Tadalafil and placebo group are planned for this novel study.
As the second most common form of dementia in America, a diagnosis of vascular dementia is most often caused by brain damage to small blood vessels, leading to a reduction in blood flow to brain tissue. Affecting over one million adults in the United States vascular dementia is diagnosed most often in elderly people. A diagnosis of mixed dementia usually includes vascular dementia, and is found in up to 70 percent of elderly people over age 80. With drug research taking one to several decades to complete, the commencement of this study is exciting as a real possibility for the growing aging population. In the United Kingdom vascular dementia is considered to be the most common form of dementia, accounting for 110,000 cases yearly.
As a carboline-based compound with vasodilatory activity, Tadalafil is an effective inhibitor of the cyclic guanosine monophosphate, resulting in vasodilation, as well as muscle relaxation. The successful of Tadalafil, known as the brand name drug Cialis, has been documented for patients around the world suffering from erectile dysfunction.
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