May 2015 Archives

Sildenafil Gives Babies a Boost Before Birth

Thumbnail image for research_icon.jpgNo doubt, Viagra has played at least a supporting role in the conception of countless babies. But now, the drug may assist both mothers and babies while the children are still in utero. Thanks to its blood vessel dilating properties, sildenafil may be able to relieve some of the effects of a condition known as intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), which can lead to premature birth and related complications.

A new study set to launch in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the Netherlands and the UK will track the treatment of pregnant women with Viagra and measure the benefits for both mother and child.

Although the study is the largest of its kind to date, apparently the treatment isn't a recent innovation. Director of the Irish Centre for Fetal and Neonatal Translational Research (INFANT), Professor Lousie Kenny, said that  "Over the last 15 or 20 years there has been an enormous amount of safety data collected on the safety of Viagra in pregnancy. It has even been given on a compassionate basis to some mothers whose babies are small and it has been found to work well."  Who would have thought so many expectant mothers were on the blue pill?

Viagra Found to Slow Spread of Malaria

Thumbnail image for research_icon.jpgViagra has unexpectedly been found effective for treating a number of medical conditions, from pulmonary hypertension to altitude sickness. Now we can add antimalarial to the list of off-label uses for everyone's favorite blue pill.

Researchers at the Institut Cochin in Paris and the Institut Pasteur, in collaboration with a team from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, made the surprising discovery in a study that was partly funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Scientists found that sildenafil, as well as other drugs tested in the study, causes malaria-infected red blood cells to become rigid, allowing the spleen to eliminate them from the body and preventing their recirculation in the bloodstream. That means fewer infected blood cells available to the mosquitoes who act as the transmission vector passing the disease on to its next human victim.

The discovery could lead to a new class of antimalarial drugs aimed at blocking the spread of the disease in human populations. According to the World Health Organization, in 2013 more than 198 million people were infected with malaria and more than 500,000 people died from the disease.

Viagra doesn't directly treat the symptoms of malaria, so don't feel compelled to stock up if you're heading for the tropics -- unless you'd like to stiffen up something other than your red blood cells.