Viagra can be used in bone marrow transplants research shows

Team of researchers at the UC Santa Cruz has developed a new method to produce donor stem cells for bone marrow transplants, for this the team is using a combination of Viagra and Plerixafor, a second hand drug.

Bone marrow transplants are generally regarded as life saviors in the treatment of cancer which help in restoring stem cells in order to generate new blood cells within the span of a person’s life.  The “hematopoietic stem cells” also known as the blood forming cells are present only in the bone marrow.

Through previous methods these cells could be acquired by drilling into the bone marrow and by means of a special needle which removed cells directly from the bone marrow. Today however it is more common to collect the cells from the blood by means of drugs which help in moving the stem cells from the bone marrow into the bloodstream.

The latest research moves stem cells from the bone marrow in just two hours. Experts reveal the key lies in using a single oral dose of Viagra followed two hours later with a single injection of Plerixafor.

Reports suggest the study was previously carried out in mice and clinical trials in humans will follow in order to confirm effectiveness and safety of the new method. Moreover, both the drugs are approved by the Food and Drug Administration and are also relatively inexpensive. This further also determines that the clinical trials will be faster and less expensive in comparison to testing compounds not previously used in humans.

“So much clinical research is done to test new drugs, whereas we found that repurposing existing drugs that are already available and FDA-approved can potentially help patients for whom a bone marrow transplant currently isn’t an option,” explained First author Stephanie Smith-Berdan.

Viagra which is known for its treatment of erectile dysfunction is a safe drug and promotes widening blood vessels which in return increases blood flow to tissues. Plerixafor on the other hand, is an inhibitor of Cxcr4, a receptor on surface of hematopoietic stem cells, which also sticks in the bone marrow. Although Plerixafor mobilizes stem cells, it is not effective on its own and Viagara by itself cannot lead to increase in hematopoietic stem cells in the blood. Patients therefore did not require to worry about inadvertent stem cell mobilization.