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Viagra could treat muscle disease

8th May 2014

US study suggests that drugs currently used for erectile dysfunction could reduce symptoms of a muscle-wasting disorder in young boys.

ViagraDuchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) affects one in every 3,500 newborn boys - many will die before they reach the age of 30. Fatalities can occur if certain muscles (needed to pump blood around the body) are affected.

There is currently no effective treatment and many patients have to use a wheelchair by the age of ten.

Current drugs
The drug presently used to treat DMD on a short-term basis, Corticosteroids, only works for 75% of patients and has a range of side effects, including acne and diabetes.

New solution
US Scientists from the Cedars-Sinai Institute in Los Angeles looked at the new treatment in a study of ten boys with DMD between the ages of eight and 13.

They wanted to see if other drugs could slow the onset of the DMD.

In the tests the drugs (Viagra and Cialis) helped improve blood flow to the muscles of the patients.

Without the drugs, the blood flow of boys with DMD increased by 32% after exercise. When they were treated with Cialis - their bloodflow increased by 63%.

This compares with 78% in "healthy" boys.

Problems with solution
Experts warn the study did not show an improvement in the boys' ability to walk, and further research was needed.

Dr Marita Pohlschmidt, director of research at the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, said: "We now need to establish whether the improved blood flow slows the muscle-wasting and the progression of the condition and whether the long-term use is safe.

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