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Published on: December 12, 2014
by The Pharma Letter:
The Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF) and the Alzheimer’s Society UK announced new funding to explore the possibility of using a commonly prescribed drug which treats erectile dysfunction as the next treatment for dementia.
Tadalafil, marketed by Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY) as Cialis – part of the same class of drugs as Pfizer’s Viagra (sildenafil) – is to be one of the major research programs funded by the two charities in a cross-Atlantic research partnership. This is the first ever study researching the use of an erectile dysfunction drug for vascular dementia.
The announcement comes on the one-year anniversary of the first G8 summit on dementia. The event saw global leaders call for increased investment and global collaboration in dementia research in order to find a disease-modifying treatment by 2025. Nearly $500,000 will go to a team of scientists led by Atticus Hainsworth of St George’s University of London, UK, to research whether tadalafil, which works by dilating blood vessels, could help prevent vascular dementia by increasing blood flow to the brain.
In addition to this clinical study, another $250,000 investment will go to Christian Holscher of Lancaster University to investigate whether experimental diabetes drugs could help reverse the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. The study follows up on the academic’s previous work showing that the diabetes drug liraglutide – marketed by Novo Nordisk (NOV. N) as Victoza – could reverse memory loss and the build-up of plaques in the brain characteristic of Alzheimer’s.
Prof Holscher will now begin work to look at whether two new, more potent diabetes drug candidates have the same or more significant effects on Alzheimer’s. The ADDF and the Alzheimer’s Society are also currently co-funding a clinical trial of liraglutide at the Imperial College London in patients with early Alzheimer’s disease.
The ADDF and the Alzheimer’s Society UK have both made significant recent investments in repurposing, which takes US Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs that are already being used to treat other conditions and tests their potential to in diseases like Alzheimer’s. This innovative approach can rapidly accelerate the drug discovery process, bringing new treatments to patients in half the time required for a drug that hasn’t already earned FDA-approval.
“Drug development can take decades and sadly, the path towards developing dementia treatments over the past decade is littered with drugs that have failed in clinical trials. As we learn more about the causes of dementia and its links to other conditions, there is hope that treatments we routinely use for other diseases may also work for people with dementia,” said Doug Brown, director of R&D at the Alzheimer’s Society, adding: “These incredibly exciting studies could see existing treatments turned into drugs for the most common forms of dementia in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost of developing new drugs from scratch.”
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