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Blood Pressure Drug Might Work Against Alzheimer's
Date:10/25/2007

It prevents formation of beta-amyloid clumps in mice, study says

THURSDAY, Oct. 25 (HealthDay News) -- The blood pressure drug valsartan shows the ability to reduce Alzheimer's disease-like symptoms in mice, researchers report.

The potential value of valsartan, marketed as Diovan, emerged from a screening program that started with 55 high blood pressure drugs, said study author Dr. Giulio Maria Pasinetti, a professor of psychiatry and neurosciences at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.

"With screening in vivo [animal studies], we came up with seven candidates," Pasinetti said, adding that valsartan was the most promising of the lot.

Specifically, valsartan interfered with the formation of clumps of the protein beta-amyloid in the brains of mice genetically engineered to be susceptible to an Alzheimer's-like disease, Pasinetti said. Beta-amyloid deposits are a leading feature of Alzheimer's disease in humans.

"We also found that in this animal model, there was some kind of effect of valsartan even at doses that were threefold lower than the common equivalent doses given to patients with hypertension [high blood pressure]," he said.

The findings are published in the Oct. 26 issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Valsartan is a member of the family of angiotensin II blockers that are widely used to control high blood pressure. Other studies already have linked a related class of blood pressure drugs, called ACE inhibitors, to a reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease. Pasinetti said his group's research with mice has identified three other blood pressure drugs that have the same effect as valsartan. He did not identify the drugs, saying, "That will be the subject of another paper."

The next step with valsartan, Pasinetti said, will be "to develop a series of clinical studies to see if the same effect seen in mice can be replicated in humans."


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