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Thalidomide

Thalidomide is now an infamous drug for all the wrong reasons. Well known for causing deformities in approximately 10,000 babies in the late 1950s and early 60s, the drug was initially developed by a former Nazi party member in order to combat morning sickness. The drug that prompted strict drug testing rules and regulations around the world is making something of a comeback. Whether the new possibly exciting positive uses of the drug will rescue its reputation remains to be seen.

 

Cancer

The full effects of Thalidomide on cancers such as pancreatic cancer and myeloma is not yet fully understood by doctors. Medical laboratories are trying to understand how it works and how it can help cancer patients without its various side effects. The hope is that thalidomide can be used to prevent the creation of new blood vessels by cancerous growths. It stands to reason that if the blood supply is cut off, the cancer will not be able to develop.

A secondary benefit of thalidomide, according to Macmillan, with respect to cancers is to reduce TNF or Tumour Necrosis Factor, a series of side effects that include night sweats, severe weight loss and high temperatures. This is caused by the body’s attempt to fight off cancerous cells going into overdrive.

In conjunction with dexamethasone, thalidomide is effective in fighting multiple myeloma, which is a bone marrow and blood cancer. This relates to the reduction of blood vessel supply to the cancerous growth.

Leprosy

Already in America, the FDA have approved thalidomide for treating leprosy. More specifically, it used to heal the skin lesions associated with the disease. These lesions are known to doctors as erythema nodosum leprosum or ENL. The antipyretic nature of the drug means it is able to help control neuritis, which attacks the nerves and is the central cause of disability through leprosy. WHO continues to recommend the use of clofazimine and prednisolone instead of thalidomide.

Arachnoiditis

Thalidomide has been looked into as a treatment for arachnoiditis, an inflammation of the arachnoid membrane that surrounds nerves. This problem has been difficult to treat without surgical intervention. Other treatments, including steroid injections, have been used to treat the symptoms rather than the underlying cause.

Mifepristone

Mifepristone is a French abortion drug also known as Mifeprex and RU-486. It is traditionally administered in conjunction with misoprostol (cytotec). The process involves first the oral administration of mifepristone to cause the placenta to break away from the endometrium. Doctors will then administer he misoprostol orally, buccally or through the vagina up to 48 hours later in order to induce contractions to remove the separated placenta and other contents from the uterus. Naturally there are a few side effects to the drug and any potential problems should be discussed with a doctor before use. The use of abortion in itself is also a controversial topic, but the drug, like many others, appears to have some secondary powers that are slowly being explored and exploited.

Cushing’s Syndrome

This syndrome is caused by producing too much of a hormone called cortisol. The result of this over production can be fatal to women. As mifepristone is an anti-glucocorticoid is has helped half of patients treated with the drug reverse the syndrome’s effects.

Endometriosis and Fibroid Tumours

Endometriosis is an overgrowth of the endometrium that spreads beyond the confines of the uterus. Fibroid tumours are non-cancerous growths that can be found in the uterus, underneath the peritoneal, in the muscle beneath the endometrium and the cervix wall. Two thirds of women will develop these kinds of tumours, while endometriosis is also relatively common. Studies show that the use of mifepristone reduces their size by up to half.

HIV

Similar to Cushing’s Syndrome, the anti-glucocorticoid properties of the drug are being used to help fight HIV by stopping the virus from replicating. This works by reducing the serum cortisol levels in the body.

Meningioma

Approximately 12-15 percent of brain and spinal cord tumours are classified as meningiomas. They are more likely to occur in women than men. Many of these tumours are operable and develop during the menstrual cycle or pregnancy. Some, however, cannot be operated on for many reasons. If this is the case, then studies are showing that mifepristone’s ability to block steroid actions in the body, resulting in a reduction in pain and suffering. The drug has also shown potential for either stopping tumour growth or even shrinking them.

Other Cancers

As with fibroid tumours and meningioma, mifepristone is being used to fight both breast and ovarian cancers by reducing the size of the tumours. There are different types of breast cancers, but those that are progesterone dependent can be fought using mifepristone because it inhibits progesterone.

Viagra, Staxyn, Cialis and Levitra

 

These four drugs are extremely well known, but for those who do not know, all three are designed to help alleviate the problem of erectile dysfunction (ED). Each drug works in a similar way by inhibiting an enzyme that regulates blood flow to the genital region. Due to this phenomenon, it has also been used for:

 

 

 

Altitude Sickness

These ED drugs widen arteries and therefore reduce blood pressure. At high altitudes blood pressure and oxygen flow are problems. This makes it difficult for many people to exercise or climb mountains if they have poor blood flow. Using ED drugs such as Staxyn, Viagra and Levitra will increase the flow of oxygen around the body allowing for more energetic exercise.

Heart Disease

Viagra, in the 1990s, was first developed in the UK to help fight angina. It was not the best at doing this and its side effect, erections, got more fame. These kinds of drugs can and are being used to help fight congestive heart failure where the heart cannot pump enough blood around the body. ED drugs help to improve blood flow around the body allowing for a more active life and sex life for sufferers of the condition.

Multiple Sclerosis

As ED drugs provide additional oxygen through improved blood flow, clinical trials are underway to see if Viagra can be used to improve the lives of patients with multiple sclerosis by improving blood flow to the brain.

Pregnancy

Clinical trials in Australia are currently looking into the properties of Viagra and other ED drugs as a means of improving blood flow to the foetus.

Prostate Cancer

Clinical trials have noted that if Viagra is used in conjunction with doxorubicin, it becomes an effective drug to combat prostate cancer. The Virginia Commonwealth University showed the combination killed prostate cancer cells in mice. According to Rakesh Kukreja, ED drugs such as Viagra are proving effective in countering the cardiac side effects of the doxorubicin. Similar studies have provided similar results in fighting both ovarian cancer and stomach cancer and could be used in other cancer fights too.

Pulmonary Hypertension

Pulmonary Hypertension is a condition involving high blood pressure in the arteries and veins leading to and from the lungs. The standard drug used to combat this problem is branded as Revatio, but it is in fact identical to Viagra, therefore any ED drug should have the same effect as Revatio in combating the problem.

Raynaud’s Phenomenon

The phenomenon occurs when a person is exposed to the cold, which triggers arterial spasms. Like frostbite, it causes a lack of blood flow to fingers and toes causing them to become cold and painful. The ability of ED drugs to relax arterial blood flow means the effects of this phenomenon cMoran be negated.

 

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Propecia & Avodart

Propecia can also be called Finasteride and is to treat condition benign prostatic hyperplasia, which is otherwise known as an enlarged prostate. Avodart is also known as dutasteride and is used for the same problems as Propecia.

 

 

 

Male Pattern Baldness

Due to its other effects, finasteride should only be used by people with benign prostatic hyperplasia. That said, the drug will also have an effect on men who also happen to have male pattern baldness. This is because the standard dosage to treat the prostate problem is greater than the standard dosage of other male pattern baldness medicines. Avodart has proven in some trials to be more effective than Propecia. Both drugs manage this by converting testosterone to DHT. By reducing the amount of testosterone in the body, it also reduces a by-product of testosterone, which is hairloss.

Hormone Replacement Therapy

In some cases, physicians may offer Propecia-Finasteride as an alternate to spironolactone and cyproterone for men changing into women. This can be used for male-to-female transexuals because of its antiandrogen properties when combined with estrogen. More clinical research is necessary first.

 

Prostate Cancer

If Viagra can be combined with doxorubicin to fight prostate cancer, then regular doses of finasteride is proving to be useful in preventing the disease in the first place. The American Urological Association and the American Society of Clinical Oncology are both recommending the use of the drug to men over the age of 55. Trials have thus far reduced the risk of prostate cancer by approximately 8 percent.

Chantix

 

Chantix is also known as varenicline and is used to treat smoking addictions by working on nicotine receptors. Varenicline trials have showed it to be the most effective nicotine replacement therapy available and can be used in conjunction with other treatments.

 

 

Other Addictions

 

Varenicline works as a partial agonist and stops the pleasure of nicotine reaching the brain. It does this by preventing nicotine from stimulating the dopamine pleasure system. Research is beginning to show that it may help stop other addictions. University of Chicago trials are showing it may help stop alcohol addiction. The idea of the drugs ability to stop other addictions was noted during trials of smokers in America.

Trials were conducted using a single dosage of the pill given to heavy drinkers before a drinking session. The trials determined that after the first drink, heavy or compulsive drinkers lost the urge to continue drinking. Additional trials using higher dosages or continued dosages are required before scientists know if the effects continue to be positive. Studies are ongoing, but it may prove effective on substance addictions.

Ella

 

Ella is also known as ulipristal acetate. It is used as an emergency contraceptive pill for women who believe they may be pregnant. The ulipristal acetate is used within five days of falling pregnant and has an effectiveness rate of about 60 percent.

 

 

Uterine Fibroids

Uterine Fibroids are benign tumours found in the uterus. These are very rarely found in single cases and there tend to be multiple fibroids. It is possible for this problem to be cancerous and if this is the case the condition is termed leiomyosarcoma. These tend to be discovered during the middle and later years of the reproductive cycle from the mid-thirties into the forties. It is possible that they cause painful sex and menstruations as well as a continuous need to pass water.

Some studies have been made into the effects of ulipristal acetate on uterine fibroids. These studies are beginning to prove that the fibroids can be shrunk using the drug. According to the New England Journal of Medicine the drug is as effective as monthly injections of Lupron, a standard treatment of fibroids in America.

An important thing to note is that the daily doses of Ella taken to combat fibroids was smaller than the dosage needed for the drug to act as an emergency contraceptive.

Ella also demonstrated less side effects than Lupron such as bleeding and anaemia in women. The drug caused less bleeding in a majority of patients who were being treated for fibroids. It is hoped the drug can stop unnecessary hysterectomies from being carried out.

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