Viagra shows promise in Alzheimer’s disease study

It’s probably the most famous of the randomised trials conducted by the man who revolutionised the treatment of erectile dysfunction. The results, published in the journal Lancet Neurology, could lead to millions of men…

Viagra shows promise in Alzheimer's disease study

It’s probably the most famous of the randomised trials conducted by the man who revolutionised the treatment of erectile dysfunction. The results, published in the journal Lancet Neurology, could lead to millions of men suffering from significant Alzheimers’ disease in the future.

“That’s the drug development promise of the study,” said Maged Selash, a neurologist at Johns Hopkins University, who helped design the trial.

Indeed, Pfizer’s Viagra injections, long called “dud o’smol” in the European medical community, have been the subject of a number of separate large clinical trials that concluded that the treatments were safe. The new trial conducted by Pfizer provides the first results on safety and effects on cognition that show that the treatment is comparable to Viagra in increasing performance.

“Viagra has been in place for more than two decades and people have been waiting for this data,” Selash said. “We know that about five million people in Europe have Alzheimer’s disease, and there’s no approved drug that can be taken by those people. Now we have the data on how Viagra works, and that would benefit millions of people.”

The research, which involved more than 28,000 people in 44 countries, involved researchers from the Universities of Oxford, Copenhagen, Cambridge, London, Ghent, Katowice and Vatra, Brussels as well as University College London and University of Waterloo, Canada.

After a year, men in the experimental group who had used Viagra took tests showing that they performed as well as their counterparts who had not taken the drug.

About 9% of the men used the drug experienced some damage to their brains in the follow-up, but none saw the loss of memory, attention and function seen with other drugs.

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