WEDNESDAY, Dec. 6, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Some commonly-prescribed high blood pressure drugs may prevent the cognitive decline caused by Alzheimer's disease, suggests research by a scientist at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.
Dr. Giulio Maria Pasinetti injected different drugs into brain cells from animals genetically predisposed to develop the build up of beta-amyloid that occurs in Alzheimer's disease and causes cognitive deterioration.
Among the agents that Pasinetti's lab identified as showing promise in preventing beta-amyloid accumulation, seven were drugs that are commonly used to treat people with high blood pressure.
The findings, expected to be presented Wednesday at the annual meeting of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, in Nashville, Tenn., suggest that many older patients currently taking drugs to control high blood pressure may also be getting some cognitive protection, Pasinetti said.
One hypertension drug in particular was identified as being effective in preventing the build-up of beta-amyloid in the brain. The drug, valsartin (Diovan), is widely prescribed to treat high blood pressure in elderly patients.
It may be possible to pinpoint a concentration of the drug that blocks beta-amyloid accumulation but doesn't affect blood pressure.
"If we can give this drug at concentrations that do not affect blood pressure, this drug could be made available for all members of the geriatric population identified as being at high risk for developing Alzheimer's disease," Pasinetti said in a prepared statement.
Pasinetti emphasized, however, that this line of research is still highly experimental.
The Alzheimer's Association outlines drugs currently used to treat Alzheimer's disease patients.