Science and Tech


Erectile Dysfunction Drugs Could Treat Muscular Dystrophy

A new study suggests erectile dysfunction drugs such as Viagra and Cialis could help treat boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
Posted at 3:18 PM, May 08, 2014

According to a new study, drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction could be useful in treating a serious disease.

"A new study out of California shows Viagra and Cialis have benefits in fighting muscular dystrophy." (Via News 12 Long Island)

According to HealthDay, researchers from the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute found a single dose of either Viagra or Cialis improved blood flow to the weakened muscles of several young men with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

The Muscular Dystrophy Association describes DMD as a "genetic disorder characterized by progressive muscle degeneration and weakness." It's one of nine types of muscular dystrophy and mostly affects young boys. There is currently no cure.

For this new study, researchers compared the blood flow of 10 healthy boys ages 8-13 with that of boys in the same age group who are battling DMD. (Via Neurology)

The boys with DMD were then given single doses of Viagra and Cialis two weeks apart and had their blood flow measured once again.

Fox News reports after taking the erectile dysfunction medications, the boys with DMD were found to have the same blood flow response as the healthy boys.

The study's lead author told USA Today"We had really striking results. ... It looked like a complete correction of the blood flow abnormality."

And doctors not involved in the study say they're encouraged by these results.

The research director at the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign told the BBC, "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​."

But because the study only looked at the short-term effects the drugs had on a very small group of patients, scientists say more research on a larger scale is needed to determine whether they can be used as a treatment for DMD. The research was published in the journal Neurology Wednesday.