There are many existing drugs that have, in some cases, been on the market for decades with authorization for specific conditions. The National Institutes of Health recently funded research into an exploration of these existing drugs for one that can potentially be repurposed as an Alzheimer’s treatment — and, the NIH has announced, a possible candidate has been discovered. The potential Alzheimer’s treatment is a common water pill (diuretic) that is already FDA approved.
The drug is called bumetanide and it may, the research revealed, be a potential candidate treatment for people who are at genetic risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Among other things, the scientists found that people who took this water pill also had “significantly” lower rates of Alzheimer’s disease compared to those who didn’t take the diuretic.
The research was extensive, including experiments involving human and mouse cells, as well as an analysis of databases with information on FDA-approved drugs and brain tissue samples. The results highlighted bumetanide as a “leading” candidate for treating Alzheimer’s disease with an existing, potentially repurposed medication.
Four other potential treatment candidates were also surfaced among more than 1,300 drugs that already have FDA approval — though the NIH points out, the water pill was the strongest among them. The researchers acknowledge that Alzheimer’s is a complex disease that has both genetic and lifestyle factors; as such, it may be necessary to develop multiple different therapies that can treat each patient’s own unique risk factors.
That aside, the water pill shows promise as one such treatment, though additional testing — followed by clinical trials — will be necessary to determine whether bumetanide holds up under scrutiny. The NIH National Institute on Aging Director Richard J. Hodes, MD, explained:
Though further tests and clinical trials are needed, this research underscores the value of big data-driven tactics combined with more traditional scientific approaches to identify existing FDA-approved drugs as candidates for drug repurposing to treat Alzheimer’s disease.