HEALTH

New studies find that impotence drugs used by males are effective in females

BY Michael Johnsen

AUGUSTA, Ga. New studies indicate the three drugs used to treat male impotence also appear to work in females, albeit a little differently, and should give the scientific community pause to take a second look at their potential in the 40% of women who report sexual dysfunction, researchers reported Friday.

In one of the first studies of the effect of phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors – Viagra (sildenafil citrate), Levitra (vardenafil) and Cialis (tadalafil) — on the pudendal arteries that supply the penis, vagina and clitoris the blood needed to produce a satisfying sexual experience, Medical College of Georgia researchers showed the drugs relax the artery in male and female rats.

“It shows the drugs need to be investigated more for women and small alterations could make these compounds more effective for women living with these disorders,” stated Kyan Allahdadi, postdoctoral fellow in physiology at MCG.

He’s presenting the findings during the 122nd Annual Meeting of the American Physiological Society held in New Orleans April 18 through 22 as part of the Experimental Biology 2009 scientific conference.

Although there was talk years ago of a pink pill for women to parallel the blue Viagra for men, early clinical trials found essentially no response in women.

MCG researchers decided to look again, first giving a drug to constrict the internal pudendal arteries in male and female rats — as they would be in a non-erect state — then giving doses of each impotency drug to see the impact. The arteries from male rats displayed a relatively standard concentration-dependent relaxation – the more drugs they got, the more they relaxed — while in females’ arteries, there was an initial relaxation then an odd oscillation between relaxation and contraction with subsequent dosing.

While they don’t fully understand the swing, the unique female response likely provides more evidence that sexual function is more complex in females, offered Clinton Webb, chair of the MCG Department of Physiology and a study author. Scientists define female sexual dysfunction as a multifaceted disorder that includes anatomical, psychological, physiological and social-interpersonal aspects.

MCG researchers have shown part of that complexity may be the smooth muscle cells in the internal pudendal arteries of females communicate, agreeing to contract and relax, while male smooth muscle cells make independent decisions to just relax.

They found one other distinction: females were more sensitive to Viagra, while males were most sensitive to Levitra.

Previous studies on the effectiveness of these drugs focused on the cavernosal tissue, or penis. The internal pudendal artery actually feeds the penile artery which is buried deep in the penis where numerous caverns enable it to be flaccid when not engorged with blood. Physical stimulation of the area causes the tissue, endothelial cells and nerves to release nitric oxide, a powerful dilator of blood vessels. The system works pretty much the same way in the vagina and clitoris.

“If you have too much constriction or not enough relaxation to allow blood to go through the internal pudendal artery, you are not going to get the net effect of an erection,” Allahdadi said. “That is why we wanted to begin to characterize what was going on in this blood vessel.”

The MCG scientists and others are beginning to believe sexual dysfunction provides an early, or at least visible, clue of vascular disease. Vascular problems, which can result from diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and the like, are a major cause of sexual dysfunction in men and women.

“What we have seen preliminarily is there is big difference in responsiveness in these arteries. The diabetic pudendal arteries are much more sensitive to contraction,” Allahdadi said.

For future research, they will look at how drugs like Viagra impact that contraction.

In fact, MCG scientists suspect one reason that many of the women participants in previous studies of Viagra did not seem to respond is because they did not have vascular problems that could have been circumvented by a drug that relaxes arteries so blood can enter. In men with a healthy vasculature, the drugs likely would still produce a longer erection.

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Thrive Allergy Expo kicks off in Chicago

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO The Thrive Allergy Expo will be kicking off its inaugural consumer expo this weekend, April 18 and 19, at the McCormick Place, providing consumers education and samples around a number of allergy-related conditions.

Thrive will present speakers across two platforms — the Healthy Living Forum and Marketplace Forum.

At the Healthy Living Forum, the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America, American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, American Lung Association, Children’s Memorial Hospital: Food Allergy Study, MedicAlert, University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center and the Gluten Intolerance Group will speak on both days of the event. Discussion topics and presentations include asthma, eczema, food allergies, Celiac Disease and precautions and avoidance tips to increase allergy safety.

At the Marketplace Forum speakers include Twinject, the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immnology, AllergyZone, Gluten Intolerance Group, Lisa Cooks Allergen Free, Merchant du Vin, and authors Jules Shepard and Kim Koeller. Anaphylaxis, indoor air quality, evolution of gluten-free beer, how to keep a gluten-free kitchen and how to safely eat out with food allergies and Celiac Disease are some of the topics that will be addressed at this Forum.

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Stem cells may curb insulin use for Type 1 diabetes patients, study finds

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK An experimental stem-cell treatment for juvenile-onset diabetes kept patients off insulin for at least a year, according to published reports.

According to WebMD, of patients recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes who received the treatment, more than half were able to go without insulin for at least a year, and four patients managed to go without it for at least three years. The treatment also uses drugs to suppress the immune system, however, and two of the patients contracted pneumonia.

The original study appears in the April 15 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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