Southampton University Hospital study finds Viagra helps beat cancer

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The DRUGS used in Viagra could make chemotherapy more effective for cancer patients, a Southampton study has shown.

Currently, only one in ten survive esophageal cancer for ten years or more, but there is now hope that PDE5 inhibitors, used in Viagra, may improve survival.

Research at Southampton University Hospital has shown that the drug can help break through a barrier of cells that surround the tumour.

This then allows the chemotherapy drugs to reach the cancer cells.

Professor Tim Underwood, who is also a professor of gastrointestinal surgery at the University of Southampton, led the research.


READ MORE: Southampton research finds cancer drug can improve survival


He said: “The chemo-resistant properties of esophageal tumors mean that many patients undergo intensive chemotherapy which will not work for them.

“Finding a drug, which is already safely prescribed to people every day, could be a big step forward in the fight against this difficult-to-treat disease.”

Esophageal cancer affects the food pipe that connects your mouth to your stomach.

Although it is a rare form of cancer, the UK has one of the highest rates in the world, with 9,300 new cases of oesophageal cancer each year.

The study, published in Cell Reports Medicine, is still in its early stages, but it is hoped that the combination of PDE5 inhibitors and chemotherapy will shrink some esophageal tumors more than chemotherapy alone.

Terry Daly, 60, who was diagnosed with esophageal cancer last October, welcomed the news.

He said: “I think the new research is great news and maybe if the drugs had been available alongside my first chemo it could have shrunk my tumor further before my operation and improved this whole process significantly.

The research was funded by Cancer Research UK and the Medical Research Council.

Michelle Mitchell, Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK, said: “Developing new cancer drugs is hugely important, but doing it from scratch is a difficult process, and many fail along the way.

“Advances in the treatment of esophageal cancer over the past 40 years have seen only limited improvement, which is why we have made it a research priority.

“We look forward to seeing how the combination treatment of PDE5 inhibitors with chemotherapy performs in clinical trials.”

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