Wednesday, October 16, 2019
Home Conditions Cancer Viagra and Plerixafor Make Bone Marrow Transplants Faster and Easier

Viagra and Plerixafor Make Bone Marrow Transplants Faster and Easier

“Our approach could significantly increase the number of patients who could benefit from bone marrow transplants.”

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A new study conducted on mice has found that Viagra, a blockbuster erectile dysfunction (ED) drug, may help make bone marrow transplants easier. The little blue pill could help with getting lifesaving stem cells out of the bones quicker.

Researchers at the University of California Santa Cruz have found a new and easier technique to acquire donor stem cells for bone marrow transplants by using Viagra and Plerixafor, an immune-stimulant that mobilizes hematopoietic stem cells in patients with cancer.

Bone marrow transplantation is one of the lifesaving procedures for cancer patients because it helps in restoring hematopoietic stem cells that are known to generate new blood cells. The hematopoietic stem cells are only found in the bone marrow.

Obtaining these cells for transplants requires painful drilling of a special needle into the hipbone, acquiring the cells directly from the bone marrow. However, now these cells can be collected from the blood by using drugs that mobilize the stem cells from the bone marrow and move them into the bloodstream. The drugs are injected daily for several days, which causes bone pain and other painful side effects.

However, the new study, funded by the American Cancer Society and published in the Stem Cells Reports, has demonstrated a new method to mobilize hematopoietic stem cells from the bone marrow, which includes a dose of Viagra followed by a single dose of Plerixafor after two hours.

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Senior study author Camilla Forsberg said, “Our approach could significantly increase the number of patients who could benefit from bone marrow transplants. Even though there are already ways to do this, the standard regimen doesn’t work for everyone.”

The researchers said the new regimen for mobilizing the stem cells from the bone marrow with Viagra and Plerixafor is much easier and faster.

However, the study researchers said it is important to conduct studies in humans to determine the safety and efficacy of the new method.

Forsberg said that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already approved Viagra and Plerixafor, which are relatively inexpensive so the clinical use of these drugs could be faster and less expensive.

First study author Stephanie Smith-Berdan said, “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.”

“When you dilate the blood vessels with Viagra, the cells mobilized by Plerixafor are better able to get out into the bloodstream,” added Smith-Berdan.

 “If we can make bone marrow transplants a super safe procedure, there are a lot of other disorders for which it could be life-changing, especially for children,” said Forsberg. “Doctors could provide a one-time treatment for conditions that currently have to be managed over a patient’s lifetime.” The researchers explained that Viagra itself did not mobilize hematopoietic stem cells in the blood so patients taking it should not worry about the mobilization of those cells.

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