There is so much research being carried out in the area of dementia and alzheimer’s currently. An interesting study is about to start in the UK and is focusing on vascular dementia, a very popular form of the disease. 110,000 of current cases have been diagnosed across the UK. This form of dementia is cause by damage to the small blood vessels which ultimately decreases the flow of blood to the tissue of the brain.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s are often confused or thought to be one in the same, but they are in fact different conditions. Dementia is a disorder of the brain that affects communication and day to day life. Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia that affects areas of the brain responsible for thought, language and memory.
When a dementia diagnosis is made, it is not clear exactly what is causing the condition, rather, a set of symptoms are being diagnosed. Alzheimer’s causes 50 to 70% of all cases of dementia, as well as being a well known form of dementia, and symptoms very specifically related to a difficulty with speaking, thinking and a general confusion. Both conditions are becoming very common but, for the purpose of this study, vascular dementia is the primary focus. Vascular dementia is the second most popular form of dementia in the UK.
Certain controversial headlines state that elderly patients in the UK are being ‘fed’ Viagra for the purposes of this study but this is, of course, not true. It makes perfect sense that a viagra-like treatment would be researched at some point for the treating of vascular dementia considering its effects on blood flow. Taldalafil, the actual drug being administered for the purposes of this trial, is used to dilate blood vessels in penile tissue for those who suffer with erectile dysfunction (ED). It is thought that this dilation will, similarly, ease blood flow, but to the brain, for people who suffer with small or damaged blood vessels.
This will be a small study comprising of 50 men and women, over the age of 65, who have experienced blood vessel damage in the past, caused by a stroke, or those who have been diagnosed with memory issues as a result of blood vessel damage. A huge number of people at this stage of life experience issues with blood vessel damage, currently up to 70%. The study’s participants have not been diagnosed with dementia.
Blood flow to the brain will be measured before and after a dose of this drug via MRI and will ascertain how much blood is reaching specific areas of the brain. Lower doses and placebos will be used to compare amounts of blood flow and the corresponding effects on areas of the brain that are typically affected by vascular dementia.
The exciting part about this trial is that if taldalafil does in fact work, and since it is already on the market for the treatment of another disease, i.e, the treatment of ED, it will not take as long to get to market for the treatment of vascular dementia as it would a new drug.
It is thought that 850,000 people in the UK will have dementia by 2016. Research in this area is more important than ever before, a cure, vital.
You can read more about this study here.