There’s no such thing as a good or bad disease or disorder. Sometimes, you can be grateful a particular problem is not terribly serious. Other times, it’s just your bad luck you were the one to catch the particular disease. Yet, some disorders are rightly considered unfair. Among these are the nine variations on muscular dystrophy. Indeed, any disorder that comes courtesy of your genes is unfair. You can blame yourself for stupidity if you go into the jungle without taking your shots against the local diseases. But if your disorder is an accident of the way your parents’ genes came together at conception, it’s not your fault. All you can do is make the best of a bad job. The muscular distrophies are a form of wasting disease. They are progressive and slowly break down the tone and control of muscles. At first, this leads to weakness and bad co-ordination.
As the disorder progresses, sufferers are restricted to wheelchairs and their general health is affected. At present, there’s no cure, but people can slow down the effects by exercising regularly to strengthen the musculature. A team is working at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. The research interest is in the Becker variant of muscular dystrophy which almost exclusively affects men and always affects sexual performance. A small, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial is proceeding to test the effect of tadalafil. There is good evidence to show the use of erectile dysfunction drugs dilates the arteries and improves the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the muscles during exercise. Indeed, sporting authorities around the world are increasingly concerned that men who use these drugs as a part of their training regimes may gain an unfair advantage when they compete. Tests are underway to decide whether their use should be banned in the Olympics and other major sporting events.
In studies using mice training with erectile dysfunction drugs, the results show the mice were able to exercise more vigorously with less risk of damage to their muscles. If a part of the cause of muscle weakness among those with muscular dystrophy is poor blood supply, the use of erectile dysfunction drugs would seem indicated to improve the ability of the men to exercise for longer periods of time. This research is at an early stage but the ability of cialis (generic name tadalafil) to dilate arteries in different parts of the body is now the subject of quite different FDA approvals for the treatment of erectile dysfunction and pulmonary arterial hypertension which causes severe pain in the chest. With this diversification an established fact, it will be interesting to see how these men with muscular dystrophy react to cialis (apart from the improvement in the quality of their erections).
If the results are sufficiently encouraging, we could well see a major clinical trial launched in 2011 to see whether the results scale up to a statistically significant number of men. Being honest and optimistic, we hope to be able to report significant benefit to those who suffer from muscular dystrophy. Although this will not represent a cure — until scientists develop a way of repairing defective genes, no cure is possible — it may well slow the progression of the disorder and improve the quality of life.
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