BP drug could prevent Alzheimer's

Use of the antihypertensive drug valsartan in elderly patients may also ward off Alzheimer's disease, suggest studies in mice.

Over two years, more than 1,500 medicines used for a range of conditions have been examined by US scientists to see if they could fight Alzheimer's.

As part of the study, 55 anti-hypertensives were tested on primary cortico-hippocampal neurons collected from Tg2576 mice, that were genetically engineered to develop Alzheimer's.

Of these, seven agents were able to reduce the beta-amyloid protein accumulation that is typically seen in Alzheimer's.

Only the angiotensin II antagonist valsartan was able to prevent beta-amyloid peptides clumping together. It is these high molecular weight oligomers that are known to lead to cognitive deterioration.

The researchers then gave Tg2576 mice valsartan. Neuropathology of Alzheimer's reduced when the drug was administered. The amount of high molecular weight oligomeric beta-amyloid peptides also decreased. This effect was still seen at half the dose of valsartan needed to control BP.

Latest findings back up observations of a reduced rate of Alzheimer's in elderly patients taking antihypertensive drugs.

Lead researcher Professor Giulia Maria Pasinetti, from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, said: 'The use of these drugs for a potential anti-Alzheimer's disease role is still highly experimental and at this stage we have no clinical data beyond phenomenological observation in humans.'

Preventative and therapeutic clinical trials into the area are now needed, he added.

rachel.liddle@haymarket.com

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