Viagra As Stroke Treatment?

viagra CBS/AP

Doctors at Henry Ford Hospital here have begun studying Viagra as a possible treatment for strokes.

Animal tests have indicated the sexual performance drug used by millions of men can improve memory and movement by helping injured brains develop new cells and blood vessels, researchers said.

The study will focus on Viagra's effect on people who have suffered ischemic strokes, which are caused by blocked arteries. Nearly 90 percent of the 700,000 strokes that occur yearly in the United States are ischemic, and they often cause long-term disability and death.

The Ford Hospital study is a so-called phase one study, the earliest stage of research, to determine whether Viagra is safe. The study will enroll 84 patients ages 18 to 80 with mild-to-moderate complications in the first three days of a stroke over the next three months.

Seven groups of patients will get doses of Viagra ranging from 25 milligrams to 150 milligrams, depending on how well patients tolerate the drug. A typical dose of Viagra for sexual activity is 50 milligrams.

The study follows more than 10 years of laboratory research by Michael Chopp, chief of neurology research at Ford Hospital, the Detroit Free Press reported in Thursday editions.

Chopp gave memory and movement tasks to rodents who had strokes. Those given Viagra were able to find a hidden escape platform, showed better footing walking over elevated grids and turned in both directions, instead of the singular direction taken by rodents who had strokes but were not given Viagra.

Other research extracted an early type of cell from the inner, spongy part of bone, purified it and administered it to animals given Viagra. The combined therapy produced a key molecule, cyclic guanosine monophosphate. Using magnetic resonance imaging and other tests, Chopp has shown that the therapy caused the brains of injured rodents to develop new cells, new blood vessels and new electrical connections near injury sites.

"We all were told in school that you're born with a certain number of brain cells and that's it," Chopp told the Free Press. "Now we know the brain is highly plastic and capable of remodeling.

"Remodeling the brain, like remodeling a house, may require new plumbing, such as new brain cells, new electrical connections or new synapses and new rooms or brain cells in order to regain function," he said. "Now we hope to translate all these therapies into the clinic."

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine reported in January that Viagra blocked and even reversed some of the heart enlargement in mice with blood pressure stress. Plans are under way for a trial to determine if similar results occur in humans.
  • Jaime Holguin

Comments