Identifying High-Potential Drugs to Repurpose for Alzheimer Disease: Feixiong Cheng, PhD


The assistant professor at Cleveland Clinic discussed key factors to consider when choosing repurposed drugs that could show max potential in treating Alzheimer disease.

"Another challenge I must mention is that we have to think of the drug within a precision medicine study setting. It’s not to just repurpose the drug for all patients with Alzheimer disease. This drug may only have efficacy in one specific individual.”

At the 2021 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC), July 26-30, research presented by Feixiong Cheng, PhD, identified sildenafil (Revatio) as a promising drug candidate for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer disease (AD). Using a developed endophenotype molecular network-based methodology, the investigators conducted 5 comparison analyses, which included other drugs such as diltiazem (Cardizem; Valeant), losartan (Cozaar; Merck), glimepiride (Amaryl; Hoechst) and metformin (Glucophage; Merck).

All told, the data showed a statistically significantly 69% reduced risk of AD for sildenafil users compared to matched non-sildenafil usage. In recent years, the AD research field has had an increase in the number of repurposed agents within the clinical pipeline. While there are several promising FDA-approved drugs in circulation, choosing the correct option to test in a clinical trial setting requires careful examination, according to Cheng.

In an interview with NeurologyLive, Cheng discussed what goes into deciding what drugs may be good candidates for AD, and which mechanistic actions researchers should key in on. He also stressed that being able to validate a given drug’s efficacy is crucial in understanding whether its right to spend time and resources on it.

For more coverage of AAIC 2021, click here.

Cheng F, Fang J, Zhang P, et al. Sildenafil reduces the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. Presented at 2021 AAIC Annual Meeting; July 26-29. Abstract 254
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