14 October 2019

Viagra might someday enhance bone marrow transplants

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The long story of sildenafil citrate, best known by the brand name Viagra, may have another chapter to it. reports citing Gizmodo that researchers at the University of California Santa Cruz think the drug can improve how we perform bone marrow transplants, as part of a combination therapy that allows doctors to harvest stem cells from patients quicker and safer than the traditional method. So far, though, it’s only been tested in mice.

Famously, Viagra didn’t start out as a drug for erectile dysfunction. Because of its effects in opening up blood vessels (what scientists call a vasodilator), it was originally studied as a way to treat high blood pressure and relieve chest pain caused by heart disease. But in human trials, it soon became apparent that sildenafil was better at boosting men’s erections, which led to its rechristening as the little blue pill.

But according to study author Camilla Forsberg, there’s a chance that sildenafil could be recycled for something else yet again.

In experiments with mice, they used sildenafil in combination with another drug that stimulates bone marrow growth but isn’t effective enough on its own, called plerixafor. In these mice, the combination method didn’t coax quite as many stem cells as the standard treatment, but the team was able to harvest enough stem cells for successful transplants in just two hours, rather than the five days it normally takes (the timeline is the same for both mice and people).

2019.10.12 / 16:53
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