After seven years of research, scientists at Anglia Ruskin University, University College London and KU Leuven—developed a drug combination that holds a great deal of potential to halt the progression of Fibrosis.
Initially, the researchers created a model that tests 21 different drugs to treat a disease in men called Peyronie's Disease. When tested on cells and animal models, they found that combining phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors (PDE5i) such as vardenafil (Levitra), sildenafil (Viagra) or tadalafil (Cialis) with selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERM) such as tamoxifen or raloxifene—treated fibrosis that causes Peyronie's Disease. Essentially, halting the progression.
"The principle of fibrosis is what causes Peyronie's Disease and so this is an important breakthrough. Although we do not believe this particular drug combination will be able to reverse the fibrotic process, it has the potential to treat all fibrotic diseases and halt progression,” says lead author Professor Selim Cellek, of Anglia Ruskin University. "This is an extremely exciting development and one that has taken several years of hard work. Fibrosis is a very serious condition that, when it affects a major organ, can be fatal.”
According to the study published in the journal European Urology, Fibrosis is known to cause half of all deaths. Responsible for conditions like cirrhosis of the liver, kidney, lung and heart—fibrosis occurs when damage causes a type of cell, called fibroblast, to convert itself into another type of cell called myofibroblast for the purpose of wound healing.
Image Credit: Promedior
After healing, the tissue that was previously damaged will return to its normal structure. However, in some cases that is not the case because the cells responsible, the myofibroblasts, will go out of control and 'overheal' the wound—causing scar tissue that holds no biological function.
Since scar tissue is dead tissue, its presence on major organs like the kidney, lungs, liver or heart, it is a serious tissue and estimated by the United States government cause 45% of all deaths. Developing a drug that can treat such an issue could save many lives. "To our knowledge, this is the first study of its kind to show a synergy between these two types of drugs. We look forward to taking this novel combination to clinical trials in the near future,” states Cellek.