The male sexual health drug Viagra could be used to help fight obesity, according to new research, thanks to the drug's ability to transform fat cells.
Scientists have found that Viagra can transform white fat cells into beige fat cells, which could help people control their weight.
As the research brief points out this finding has come from studies undertaken in mice. Mice administered with Viagra converted fat cells in their stomach and other swollen areas. The process of transferring white fat cells to beige fat cells is a process which converts food energy into heat. For a twelve week period, mice were dosed with the drug and did not gain fat despite being fed a high-fat diet.
Medical News notes that the researchers found the drug also prevented white fat cells from increasing in size and releasing hormones that in turn cause inflammation. This could potentially reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
Viagra is a drug most commonly associated with treating erectile dysfunction, but also treats altitude sickness and arterial hypertension.
The study in mice remains at the initial research stages, a report in Science notes, and the effects on mice cannot necessarily be transferred to humans.
The research was undertaken at the Institute for Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Bonn, led by Dr Alexander Pfeifer. The results have been published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.