You probably know Cialis as that boner drug with the annoying commercial of a sex-deprived couple sitting in separate bathtubs gazing toward the horizon. The announcer says something about the dangers of erections lasting more than four hours and viewers get grossed out thinking about baby boomers with raging hard-ons.
But this week, a gaggle of researchers, including Barry Byrne of the University of Florida, published a new study showing that the drug might have far less lascivious applications. According to the findings, Cialis might be able to reverse the effects of Becker muscular dystrophy, a rare and debilitating disease for which there's no known cure.
The study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine
, found that a single dose of the drug "fully restored proper blood flow in eight of nine patients."
While the study size is small, the findings are big. Not only is there no known treatment for this particular form of muscular dystrophy but the disease is a total bummer.
Becker muscular dystrophy, according to the National Institutes of Health, is a genetic disorder that affects mostly men. The first signs of the ailment usually show up between the ages of 5 and 15.
As the disease progresses, the muscles around the pelvis and legs weaken, eventually becoming useless. By ages 25 to 30, those afflicted usually can't even walk. Symptoms include "frequent falls" and "difficulty getting up from the floor."
So how does a drug best-known for pitching trouser tents help? By reversing the effects of a "biochemical chain of events" that deprives muscles of nitric oxide, a chemical that helps promote blood flow and increases the delivery of oxygen to tissues.
Sure, it sounds science-y, but it makes sense.
Keep in mind that Viagra, the godfather of erection drugs, was originally being developed to help treat high blood pressure and heart disease. Then researchers discovered that it helped get blood flowing below the belt in manland and an entirely new and wildly lucrative class of drugs was born.
Scientists have since looked at the potential of drugs like Cialis and Viagra to treat a whole host of ailments.
The latest study is just one step of many toward finding a treatment for a horrible disease. But it's an important and promising one.