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Malignant Melanoma Successfully Treated With Sidenafil (Viagra)

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Malignant Melanoma Successfully Treated With Sidenafil (Viagra)

One of the tumor side effects is chronic inflammation which in turn can “numb” the immune system preventing it from attacking tumoral cells. A new study conducted by scientists from The German Research Center on mice , demonstrated that individuals with melanoma that were treated with sidenafil (Viagra), lived twice as long as untreated cancerous mice.

In the first phase the body immune system reacts and gets into action in case of almost any cancer type, but not necessarily for the patient’s own good. There are two main types of immune system response according to Dr. Viktor Umansky, imunologist at University Medical Center Mannheim. The immune system kicks into action and starts targeting tumor cells but on the other hand, almost each tumor type determines a chronic inflammatory response that numbs the specific anti-cancer immunity.

During the inflammatory immune response, specialized immune cells after migrating in the tumoral area start secreting molecules of characteristic immune mediators. The aim of this study was to diminish chronic inflammatory response process thus helping the immune system to fight cancer more effectively.

Dr. Umansky observed how the chronic inflammation process occurs in case of malignant melanoma. Genetically modified mice that develop a similar type of melanoma like humans were used for this study. The researchers found interleukin 1 beta, and interferon gamma, in the tumor environment and lymph nodes of cancerous mice. These molecules attract MDSC (myeloid-derived suppressor cells) that can inhibit T cells, the body’s main weapon used for fighting cancer.

But what is the exact mechanism through which myeloid-derived suppressor cells inhibit T cells? The researchers harvested T cells from a healthy mouse spleen and exposed them to myeloid-derived suppressor cell in a culture dish. The T cells stopped from growing and reproducing and reduced the production of an important mediator.

In the end the cancerous mice were administered sidenafil. The drug is better known as Viagra and managed to improve experimental animal’s immune system in earlier studies. Twice more mice that were administered sindenafil were alive after seven weeks than untreated fellow individuals. T cells proliferation and mediator production was normal in all mice that were administered sindenafil. The conclusion is that Viagra can suppress the chronic inflammation process in cancerous mice and inhibits the myeloid-derived suppressor cells.

Sindenafil Melanoma

Sindenafil Melanoma

The research team approach is somehow different as it addresses mice with similar melanoma course as it is encountered in humans according to Viktor Umansky. The next step would be repeating the results in patients suffering from melanoma.