In an effort to determine whether existing antihypertension drugs might decrease the development of dementia, Kevin Lu, Ph.D., associate professor in the Clinical Pharmacy and Outcomes Sciences department for the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy, has been awarded a $150,000 grant from the Alzheimer’s Association.
In submitting his abstract for the grant, Lu noted that mortality from dementia and related illnesses has more than doubled over the last decades, and there are few powerful, effective medications for dementia treatment. Although the mechanism is not clear, it has been documented that medications for high blood pressure may be related to lowering the risks of dementia; however, the literature is extremely limited in quantifying the relationship between antihypertensive drugs and the risk of dementia. In addition, short follow-ups in the literature prevent rigorous study designs to draw a causal implication.
Lu hopes to overcome some of those limitations by designing a large retrospective cohort study using Medicare data to investigate the effect of antihypertensive drugs in lowering dangers for dementia in susceptible populations, in collaboration with Dr. Sam Li from the University of Tennessee.
If we can prove that antihypertensive drugs can lower the risk of dementia, patients may benefit a lot from the findings of this study ...
Lu notes that the study is significant because there are very few effective drugs for dementia.
“The FDA approved very few new medications in the last few decades, and most of them are not effective in reducing the risk of dementia. In addition, some medications are expensive, and not many individuals with dementia can afford these drugs,” he says. “Alternatively, if we can prove that antihypertensive drugs can lower the risk of dementia, patients may benefit a lot from the findings of this study because antihypertensive drugs are generally affordable for most older adults.”
Lu’s research area focuses on drug safety, effectiveness, and outcomes research. By identifying potential drugs that may be effective in dementia treatment, he hopes to help patients get affordable medications that are otherwise unavailable to them.
In awarding the grant, Beth Sulkowski, vice president of Communications for the South Carolina Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, says the association is committed to accelerating the global progress of new treatments, preventions and ultimately, a cure.
“The commitment of researchers like Dr. Lu brings hope to so many who want to see an end to this disease, and we are proud to fund his efforts here in South Carolina,” she added.