One of the heart breaking things about most of the research done on Alzheimer’s is that no matter how promising a certain experimental approach may seem, practical availability is still years, if not a decade, away. People with Alzheimer’s, or those at particular risk of developing Alzheimer’s, don’t have time to wait.
Because of this immediate need, the news that an already available drug used to control high blood pressure may help stem the degenerative effects of Alzheimer’s especially exciting.
The drug is carvedilol (brand name Coreg). And it’s already on the market. In a story titled, “Antihypertensive Drugs May Protect against Alzheimer’s Disease and Promote Healthy Memory,” on the Mount Sinai School of Medicine Web site, authors state that new research showing the antihypertensive drug carvedilol may become a way to help those with Alzehiemer’s.
“The Researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine have found that the drug carvedilol, currently prescribed for the treatment of hypertension, may lessen the degenerative impact of Alzheimer’s Disease and promote healthy memory functions. The new findings are published in two studies in the current issues of Neurobiology of Aging and the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.”
The study on mice showed that, “The scientists conducted behavioral and learning tests with each group of mice, and determined that it took the mice in the carvedilol significantly less time to remember tasks than the other group.”
The Mount Siani story implies that other blood pressure medications may also be effective, and the mice studied showed no signs of having their blood pressure reduced in a negative way.
It’s been long surmised that keeping blood pressure low is not only good for the heart, but good for the brain. However, that advice was mainly aimed at controlling stroke risk. When you think of the millions of people on blood pressure medications already, it gives one hope that there will be studies concerning many of these drugs.
If a study could be conducted dividing people into groups taking different types of antihypertensives, it would seem to me, a non-scientist, that these vast numbers should be telling. Is there only one drug that points to less Alzheimer’s developing in the patients who take that drug? Is it blood pressure drugs in general that work?
People already taking the drugs for their blood pressure are already aware of side effects, and would need the drugs regardless of the effect or potential effect on Alzheimer’s. That seems like a pretty safe study to me.
Often, it’s hard for researchers to get money to study already existing drugs for new purposes, just as it is hard to get money to study natural products, because the monetary rewards aren’t as great as when a new drug is discovered.
A newly developed drug would be a goldmine for any company, so that type of research seems to be where the money goes. That’s not bad, but studies on existing drugs are vital. Let’s hope that the research money is in place to study these antihypertensive drugs intensely.
Since doctors can prescribe drugs “off label,” if enough evidence mounts that antihypertensive drugs could slow degeneration from Alzheimer’s, I would think doctors would be trying them on at-risk patients. Again, I am not a scientist or a medical person. I’m just looking at this from the angle of what seems logical to me.
I find any steps forward in research that prove something already available may help people with Alzheimer’s, or those to be especially at risk for the disease, to be of huge importance. I would be bringing this up to my doctor soon if I needed the drug for either reason.
Published On: June 29, 2010