New research is suggesting that some of the drugs commonly used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure) may offer another benefit.
Researchers in the United States say they may also have the ability to prevent the development of Alzheimer's disease and cognitive deterioration.
In a new study researchers have found that the hypertension drug Diovan (valsartan), reduced Alzheimer's disease-like symptoms in mice.
The team of scientists from the Mount Sinai Medical Center studied the effects of 55 high blood pressure drugs on mice genetically engineered to be susceptible to an Alzheimer's-like disease; they say that valsartan was the most promising.
It was found that valsartan lowered the blood pressure by interfering with the formation of clumps of the protein beta-amyloid deposits in the brain which is a leading characteristic of Alzheimer's disease in humans.
Valsartan belongs to a class of drugs known as angiotensin II blockers which are widely used to control high blood pressure.
Earlier research has already linked a related class of blood pressure drugs, called ACE inhibitors, to a reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease.
Other anti-hypertension drugs which also offered benefits included Propranolol HCI, Carvedilol, Losartan, Nicardipine HCI, Amiloride HCI and Hydralazine HCI.
The researchers however warn that the use of such drugs to treat Alzheimer's disease remains in the experimental phase and more research is needed in this respect.
Pasinetti says the team are working primarily on the brain rather than on blood pressure and they are now trying to determine the potential mechanism by which valsartan and the other drugs might work against Alzheimer's disease.
Dr. Pasinetti says if certain anti-hypertensive drugs can be given to patients at high risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, at doses that do not affect blood pressure, these drugs could be made available for all members of the geriatric population identified as being at high risk for developing Alzheimer's disease."
The study is published in the current issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.