Bedroom booster Viagra offers new hope to cancer patients

Viagra, the pill best known for correcting erectile dysfunction and initially intended to curb heart disease, may soon allow more comfortable medical treatment for patients with leukemia and other cancers, according to a report by Medical Daily.

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Sildenafil, marketed as Viagra, was developed to treat a type of high blood pressure between the heart and the lungs, and researchers have since found a way to use it to make extracting stem cells from bone marrow -- an excruciating process that currently involves drilling into the hip bone -- less painful, according to the report.

Combining Sildenafil with the stem cell-mobilizing drug Plerixafor pulled stem cells from bone marrow into the bloodstream. Researchers were able to extract cells from mice within two hours of injection in the study, led by University of California Santa Cruz research specialist Stephanie Smith-Berdan.

“The rationale was to test whether known and approved vascular drugs could be repurposed to coax" cells into the bloodstream, and "this turned out to be right,” said Camilla Forsberg, professor of biomolecular engineering at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a senior researcher involved with the study.

While Smith-Berdan and Forsberg work in pre-clinical research science and cannot test the new cocktail in humans, the prospect of quicker and less painful stem cell extraction will likely lead to an increase in volunteers if the clinical trials prove successful, according to Medical Daily.

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Smith-Berdan also told Medical Daily that since Aildenafil and Plerixafor are already approved by the Food and Drug Administration, it will likely be easier for researchers to use them for further tests and studies.