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Erectile Dysfunction Drugs Cuts Colon Cancer Risk

Update Date: Oct 03, 2013 12:08 PM EDT

Erectile dysfunction drugs may prevent or even treat colon cancers, according to researchers.

Research is being conducted on three different drugs, Viagra being one of them. Researchers say the drugs work by protecting the integrity of the colon’s natural barrier. They also reduce excessive and risky cell proliferation.

“We’ve found a way of activating a tumor suppressive pathway in the gut using drugs already in use for erectile dysfunction,” said Dr. Darren Browning, cancer researcher at the Georgia Regents University Cancer Center in a press release.

Browning has also received a $1.8 million National Cancer Institute grant for further exploration on the extent the drugs work to prevent colon cancer.

“We became interested in the erectile dysfunction drugs because they are known to increase the levels of a chemical called cyclicGMP, which can activate PKG,” Browning said.

In the penis, the drugs’ activation of PKG relaxes the circular and smooth muscles around the blood vessels. Basically, the drugs work the same way to further reduce pulmonary hypertension in premature babies.

Browning also found that the drugs activate PKG2 inside the colon.

In the study, he discovered that an enzyme called type 2 protein kinase G, or commonly referred as PKG2 has an important role in protecting the cells. Those cells make up the barrier and slow down cell proliferation in the colon.

Apart from this Browning is also pursuing the drugs’ effectiveness in colitis. Colitis is a painful inflammation of the colon and a major risk factor for colon cancer.

“If the drugs continue to work as our studies to date have indicated, the next stage is clinical trials because these drugs are in the clinic already,” Browning added.

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