News Wednesday September 29, 2010

Viagra could treat prostate cancer

Viagra could protect cancer sufferer's hearts when they undergo chemotherapy.

The drug Doxorubicin has been used for years as an anti-cancer drug for prostate cancer among other forms of the disease. Although Doxorubicin is effective, it has been associated with irreversible heart damage which generally occurs several years after treatment stops. Researchers have worked hard to find a medication that protects the heart without limiting the effect of the chemotherapy. Now it seems that the erectile dysfunction treatment Viagra may be the answer.

Experts at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine gave Viagra to test rats while simultaneously treating them with Doxorubicin. Not only did the combination of the two drugs reduce tumour size, but it also alleviated damage to the heart.

Lead investigator Dr Rakesh C. Kukreja said: "We believe sildenafil could be an excellent candidate for incorporation into cancer treatment protocols with the potential of enhancing the anti-tumour efficacy, while protecting the heart against both short-term and long-term damage."

The research team are now hoping to proceed to the next stage of the trial - testing the combination of drugs on cancer patients. Their findings so far are published in the latest edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

A versatile drug

Viagra is a versatile drug. It was originally designed to treat arthrosclerosis, but showed the unexpected side effect of causing erections during tests. Following this it was designed as, and has since been used as, a drug to treat erectile dysfunction. But many more uses have been found for Viagra. Viagra has been used to treat patients with heart and lung problems, by opening up blood vessels. Viagra has also been used to help with pregnancy and newborn children. With relatively few side effects Viagra has been hailed as a highly effective impotence drug, that can also help with many other conditions.

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