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Viagra ‘could help treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy’, New Study
Viagra 'could help treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy', New Study

Viagra ‘could help treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy’, New Study

A class of drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction could also treat blood flow problems related to Duchenne muscular dystrophy–a bright spot in a disease field marked by clinical failures.

In a small trial, boys with Duchenne given phosphodiesterase inhibitors–a class of drugs that includes sildenafil (Viagra) and tadalafil (Cialis)–had increased blood flow to muscles and less fatigue after exercising. Caused by a mutation in the dystrophin gene, the progressive, muscle-wasting disorder affects about 1 in 3,600 boys.

For the study, researchers recruited 10 boys between the ages of 8 and 13 years old with Duchenne muscular dystrophy who were taking corticosteroids first were compared to 10 healthy boys of the same age. Then researchers measured the blood flow in all of the participants’ muscles when they were at rest and when they were doing a handgrip exercise.

Based on the results, boys with Duchenne did have blood flow abnormalities, even though they were taking corticosteroids.

Next the boys with Duchenne received either tadalafil or the drug sildenafil and the tests were repeated. After waiting two weeks, the boys received the other drug and were tested again.

Researchers said that after taking either drug, the boys’ blood flow response during exercise was the same as that of the boys who did not have the disease.

“The effect was immediate and dramatic. The result also was more pronounced with higher doses,” Ronald G. Victor study author and assistant director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, said in a statement.

Victor said more research is needed before recommending the drugs for people with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

“This is not a cure, but it is the first stop toward identifying potential treatments,” he said.

The findings were recently published in the online issue of Neurology.

Agencies/Canadajournal




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