Dr. Giulio Maria Pasinetti of the Mount Sinai Medical Center and a research team used a computer algorithm to screen 1,600 commercially available medications to assess their impact on the brain accumulation of beta-amyloid, a protein abnormally accumulated in the brain of Alzheimer's disease.
The study, published in the journal PLoS One, found currently available medications prescribed for conditions such as hypertension, depression and insomnia were found to block or to enhance the accumulation of beta-amyloid, the component of amyloid plaques.
Pasinetti and colleagues administered the drugs in mice that were genetically engineered to develop the amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer's disease. After six months of treatment with blood pressure medicines, amyloid plaques and neurodegeneration were significantly reduced in the mice.
"One very exciting finding of our study is that Carvedilol, already approved for treatment of hypertension, might immediately become a promising drug for the treatment of Alzheimer's as well," Pasinetti said in a statement.
However, the findings must be verified in human-safety studies that examine the effects of the drugs independent of the original indication, Pasinetti said.