Animal Study Finds Tiny Dose of Sildenafil (Viagra) May Reduce Colon Cancer Risk

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Darren D. Browning, PhD | Professor Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University Georgia Cancer Center, Augusta, Georgia 30912-2100

Dr. Darren Browning

Darren D. Browning, PhD | Professor
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology,
Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University
Georgia Cancer Center,
Augusta, Georgia 30912-2100

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Cancer of the colon and rectum is one of the most commonly diagnosed and has a high mortality because it is often identified at an advanced stage. In the United States the average overall risk of having to deal with this disease at some point is around one in twenty-five, but the risk is much higher for people who have previously had polyps removed or if a close relative was diagnosed with colon cancer. The risk is even higher for patients with inflammatory bowel disease or heritable disorders such as familial adenomatous polyposis and lynch syndrome. While chemoprevention is clearly warranted, there are currently no drugs available that can reduce the risk for those predisposed to colorectal cancer.

Previous work from our laboratory has shown that drugs like sildenafil that inhibit phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5), have a profound effect on the epithelial lining of the intestine. Our recent work has shown that these drugs can prevent intestinal cancers in two different mouse models of human disease. While this class of drugs is best known for treating erectile dysfunction, due to a low side-effect profile they are also prescribed for long-term daily use to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) and benign prostate hyperplasia

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MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: While physicians currently have no drugs that are approved to prevent colon cancer in patients at high risk, our work with mice has shown that a pediatric dose of a drug already proven to be safe in humans can cut intestinal tumor formation in half. This work could set the stage for a time when taking a daily baby-dose of to reduce the risk of colon cancer could be as common the current practice of taking a baby-dose of aspirin to prevent heart attack and stroke.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: The work with mice is very exciting, but clinical trials are needed to determine whether PDE5 inhibitors affect the human colon in the same way. Our results suggest that sildenafil works by suppressing normal proliferation in the colon, which would reduce susceptibility to cancer-causing mutations. However, a better understanding of how these drugs work will inform us which patients will benefit the most from this kind of therapy.

Citation:

Sildenafil Suppresses Inflammation-Driven Colorectal Cancer in Mice

Bianca N. Islam, Sarah K. Sharman, Yali Hou, Allison E. Bridges, Nagendra Singh, Sangmi Kim, Ravindra Kolhe, JimenaTrillo-Tinoco, Paulo C. Rodriguez, Franklin G. Berger, Subbaramiah Sridhar and Darren D. Browning
Cancer Prev Res (Phila) July 4 2017 10 (7) 377-388; DOI:10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-17-0015

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