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Impotency Drugs Help to Unmask Cancer Cells

Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center has come up with a remarkable discovery. Scientists there, have found out that certain drugs that are helpful //to overcome impotence have added benefits. Sildenafil and other drugs that help to dilate blood vessels by increasing the production of a chemical messenger seem to help in unveiling cancer cells. These cancer cells once unmasked, will be recognized and ambushed by that the immune system.

The Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center conducted tests on mice. Mice with implanted breast and colon tumors were treated with sildenafil. The treated mice showed a decrease in the size of tumors. However mice that had their immune system tampered with, had the same sized tumors at the end of the tests. The scientists say, that the drug is abetting the immune system's own cellular response to cancer.

In a report published in the Nov. 27 issue of the Journal of Experimental Medicine, the Hopkins team says boosted levels of the chemical messenger nitric oxide appear to dampen the effects of a specialized cell that diverts the immune system away from tumors, allowing swarms of cancer-attacking T-cells to migrate to tumor sites in the rodents.

Lab-grown cancer cells treated with sildenafil showed similar results, as did tissue samples taken from 14 head and neck cancer and multiple myeloma patients.

Sildenafil, marketed under the trade name Viagra, is one of a class of drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction in millions of men, and in recent years, its ability to stimulate the production of NO has been investigated by experts in diseases linked to the activity of blood vessels and blood components.

The new Hopkins study homes in on a tactic used by cancers to avoid detection by the immune system by turning elements of that system to its own advantage, says Ivan Borrello, M.D., assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.

Borrello and his colleagues found th
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