A small clinical trial by researchers at the University of Edinburgh in the UK has showed that cilostazol and isosorbide mononitrate could prevent recurrence of stroke and vascular dementia.
The drugs are currently used to treat heart disease and angina, among other conditions.
Conducted in alliance with the University of Nottingham, the latest trial enrolled 57 patients who had a lacunar stroke, which is caused by damaged small blood vessels in the brain.
Participants were treated with the two drugs alone or in combination for up to nine weeks, in conjunction with their usual therapies to prevent further strokes.
The patients had health questionnaires, regular blood pressure checks, blood tests and brain scans. Results demonstrated that the drugs were safe without any serious side effects, when taken as a monotherapy or in combination.
Furthermore, the findings also suggested improvements in blood vessel function in the arms and brain, and probable improvement in thinking skills.
Alzheimer’s Society research head James Pickett said: “There hasn’t been a new drug for dementia for 15 years, so finding evidence that these cheap existing drugs could prevent dementia after a stroke would be a huge breakthrough.
“It’s promising to see that these two drugs are safe to use and we’ll be excited to see the results of the next stage of testing in a couple of years, which will show whether these drugs can be an effective treatment.”
The researchers believe that these results, published in EClinicalMedicine, would facilitate larger trials to validate the drugs’ ability to prevent brain damage and minimise the risk of stroke and vascular dementia.
University of Edinburgh Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences professor Joanna Wardlaw said: “We are delighted that the results of this trial show promise for treating a common cause of stroke and the commonest cause of vascular dementia, since currently there are no effective treatments. Further trials are underway.”
The trial has been funded by the Alzheimer’s Society, the UK Stroke Association, British Heart Foundation, the EU, National Institutes of Health Research and NHS Research Scotland.