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Viagra Holds Promise as Treatment for Uncommon Cancers

Viagra Holds Promise as Treatment for Uncommon CancersCertain drugs that are presently used for the purpose of correcting erectile dysfunction in men have been identified as having potentials to be integrated in fresh trials for anti-cancer drugs. The new clinical study which was published in the open access journal, ecancermedicalscience, was contained in a paper from the Repurposing Drugs in Oncology (ReDO) project, an international collaboration between the Anticancer Fund, Belgium, and USA-based GlobalCures.
Considering how expensive new cancer drugs have become, leading to huge political problems confronting governments globally, the Anticancer Fund set out on the task of identifying which commonly (and inexpensively) currently existing drugs possess the unexploited potential to save life.
The scientists in their paper, were able to recognise that selective phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5) inhibitors will be latently useful in new drug trials. These PDE5 inhibitors are a group of medicines that comprise sildenafil, tadalafil and vardenafil (usually referred to by their brand names Viagra ®, Cialis ® and Levitra®).
According to Dr. Pan Pantziarka of the Anticancer Fund, “It was originally developed for angina, repurposed for erectile dysfunction and then again for pulmonary arterial hypertension, and now it has the potential to be repurposed again as an anti-cancer drug.”
Similar to many other drugs that the Repurposing Drugs in Oncology (ReDO) Project has written about in publications in ecancermedicalscience, PDE5 inhibitors demonstrate a wide range of mechanisms of action in diverse kinds of cancer, such as glioblastoma multiforme — an uncommon sickness where clinically meaningful progress is urgently desired.
Pantziarka explains, “Checkpoint inhibitors have radically altered the landscape in oncology, but there remain significant challenges in terms of increasing the number and duration of responses.” He adds, “Emerging evidence, summarised in this paper, suggests that PDE5 inhibitors may be one mechanism for achieving this.”
“It would be ironic if the key to improving outcomes from some of the most expensive drugs in oncology comes from repurposing some of the cheapest non-oncology drugs.”
The paper further examines the issue that discovering new agents that are capable of crossing the blood-brain-barrier is a challenge which greatly restricts the variety of existing medicines for the treatment of brain tumours. Evidences are available showing that drugs not at present licenced for the treatment cancer such as the PDE5 inhibitors, are capable of increasing permeability thereby improving drug delivery to brain tumours. This of course enhances the possibilities of new therapeutic options for patients.
The paper consists of a wide spectrum of data both pre-clinical and clinical; it has been summarised and presented to prove that these commercially accessible and well adapted PDE5 inhibitors are strongly contesting to be repurposed as anticancer agents.
The drugs are cheap and relatively non-toxic, and have demonstrated good prospects for inclusion with existing and emerging standard of care treatments in issues relating to cancer.
The scientists look forward to having this study bring the latent strength of this group of drugs to the awareness of more clinicians and researchers who are involved with clinical trials. Some small, early phase trials are still going on, except that the ReDO group is of the mind that time has come for greater efficacy tests to commence, such that the hopes vested in these low-priced repurposed drugs can be fully achieved.
Papers emanating from the ReDO project before now have examined how reasonably priced common drugs like beta-blockers and anti-fungal drugs can be “repurposed” and incorporated in the whole gamut of treating cancer.


Sally Ahmed

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