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Impotence drugs could help fight cancer

Treatments for impotence could help chemotherapy drugs reach malignant brain tumours, according to researchers from the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute
Treatments for impotence could help chemotherapy drugs reach malignant brain tumours, according to researchers from the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute.

Recent animal studies revealed that two erectile dysfunction drugs - Levitra (Schering-Plough and Viagra (Pfizer) - helped chemotherapy drug, adriamycin, past the blood-brain barrier. 

Rats with brain tumours given adriamycin alone lived for 42 days, while those given adriamycin and Levitra survived for an average of 53 days. According to
Dr Keith Black, chairman of the department of neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre and director of the Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute, a combination of Levitra and adriamycin resulted in longer survival and smaller tumour size.

"We chose adraimycin for this study because it is one of the most effective drugs against brain tumour cell lines in the laboratory but it has very little effect in animals and humans because it is unable to cross the blood-brain tumour barrier," said Black. "This is the first study to show that oral administration of PDE5 inhibitors increases the rate of transportation of compounds across the blood-brain tumour barrier."

Brain tumours grow little blood vessels for the supply of nutrients, and these have a barrier, similar to the blood-brain barrier that keeps harmful agents from reaching the brain, called the blood-brain tumour barrier. According to Black impotence drugs affect the tumour blood-brain barrier, but not the larger blood-brain barrier. This may help the use of chemotherapy to kill off brain tumours without damaging the healthy brain tissue.

Researchers from the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's Maxine Dunitz believe that the findings could have significant implications for the treatment of brain tumours.

29th July 2008

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