One particularly promising and recent example demonstrated how a drug commonly used for high blood pressure could be used to treat diseases like Parkinson's and dementia. Scientists in the Netherlands have now uncovered another candidate, finding an existing drug used for hypertension was able to boost blood flow to memory and learning regions in the brains of Alzheimer's patients.
The research was carried out by scientists at Radboud University Medical Center and centers on a commonly used hypertension drug called nilvadipine. The drug is a calcium channel blocker and has been used to treat high blood pressure since the 1990s, but recently scientists have started to explore how its effects could benefit patients with Alzheimer's disease, spurred on by earlier research linking declines in brain blood flow with the early stages of the disease.
Enlisting 44 Alzheimer's patients for their study, the researchers divided the participants into two groups, with one group given nilvadipine and the other given a placebo over a period of six months. Measurements of blood flow to the brain's hippocampus were taken via MRI both before and after the treatment began.