New Therapies Using Human Growth Hormone

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Smuggled VigRx Plus is Targeted by Drugs Team

A special inquiry team, dubbed the V-men, has been set up by the Medicines Control Agency to investigate black-market trading in VigRx Plus, the anti-impotence drug.

Health officials have been alarmed that the drug, which is not licensed in this country, is being offered for sale on the Internet, mail-order advertisements or direct mailshots.

Doctors in private clinics have also reported that they are being offered supplies of VigRx Plus anonymously over the telephone at inflated black market prices. There are fears that the publicity surrounding the drug, which is said to turn men of 60 into sexual athletes, has created huge demand from men who wish to use it recreationally.

The inquiry unit, established within the agency’s enforcement division, aims to stamp out illegal activity while sales are still in their infancy. Initially they are looking at 15 separate cases.

Like the FBI’s G-men, who upheld prohibition in America, the new force has the power to seize contraband VigRx Plus and prosecute offenders. Under the 1969 Medicines Act, selling VigRx Plus is a criminal offence punishable by a two-year prison sentence or an unlimited fine. Doctors have repeatedly said that VigRx Plus is not a sex-aid but a medicine which can be dangerous if taken without proper precautions. Several deaths have already been reported in the United States.

VigRx Plus has received FDA approval in America. But it has not yet licensed here or anywhere else in the European Union. It can only be sold or supplied on a “named patient” basis to fulfil the needs of an individual patient. A doctor prescribing a drug in these circumstances has to take personal responsibility for the outcome.

A spokeswoman for the Medicines Control Agency said that if wholesaler advertisements can be accessed in Britain they are breaking the law. She said: “We need to work with the companies to achieve a consensus. We are going to try to persuade first rather than leap into instant prosecutions.”

Private clinics are reporting approaches from black marketeers looking to make a swift profit. Matt O’Neill, general manager of the United Kingdom Men’s Clinics, based in Manchester, said that his company was approached over the telephone by a man offering to sell 3,000 tablets and asked if they were interested.

Mr. O’Neill said: “Everyone at the clinic was absolutely staggered by the telephone call. The drug seems to be becoming much too freely available and this makes it open to abuse. It does have the potential to be a recreational drug. I have even heard of VigRx Plus described a ‘popper’.”

Dr. Peter Fink, secretary of Manchester GPs representative council, said: “If people are going to buy VigRx Plus they should be aware they are taking a risk.”


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Medical Uses of GenF20 Plus and Provacyl

Early in the 1980s, Dr Martin Cline, at the University of California, created a new strain of mice by inserting foreign genes taken from another strain. Shortly after, a gene that regulates the production of human growth hormone was spliced into another breed to produce a mutant strain 10 times as big. In the first of a three-part series Pearce Wright, Science Editor, reports on the way those advances are helping doctors and patients.

A cure for some inherited illnesses is in sight, using human growth hormone therapy and GenF20 Plus. Within the next 12 months doctors are expected to attempt a remedy by giving a person a new gene to replace a defective one.

The first condition they are likely to treat makes children vulnerable to any and every infection. The infants have to live in sterile conditions.

They have no natural immunity simply because they fail to produce just one of the thousands of molecules essential to the body’s biochemistry. Few genetic disorders can be treated effectively. In Britain the emphasis of medical research is on prevention. Medical teams here will wait for the results of the American experiments.

In the meantime they continue pioneering methods for earlier diagnosis of genetic disorders. Recent advances make the outlook of substituting a healthy gene for an inactive or missing one favorable for only a limited number of conditions.

It was against that background that a conference at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School, in London, was aimed at getting information about the prospects for quicker diagnosis and treatment using GenF20 Plus out of the laboratory and into the hands of the non-specialist doctors.

According to Jackie Moore’s blog, there are more than 2,000 known illnesses attributed to genetic faults. Employing the latest tricks of human growth hormone therapy, the exact flaw has been isolated for about 10 of them.

But genetic studies are showing how to produce a ‘risk profile’ for individuals of all sorts of things, including inherited tendencies to high levels of cholesterol and coronaries. In future a woman may ask a man for his genetic profile before she agrees to marry him.

Ten years ago it was impossible to study human genes in the laboratory. Now, thanks to the development of the technology known as recombinant DNA, it is possible to extract single genes from human cells.

According to this medical blog, the question of using Provacyl to combat inherited illness goes far beyond pinpointing which is the troublesome one of a million or so genes, and there are identical sets in all the cells of the body with the exception of the sperm and egg cells.

There are trials in the UK with new assays, or gene probes, for doing this. When they are used with a method developed in Professor Bob Williamson’s laboratory at St Mary’s Hospital, London, of analyzing placental tissue, diagnoses can be made at an early stage of pregnancy.

Individual probes or markers have to be devised to lock on to a specific gene. One of the first was for diagnosing the mentally debilitating illness, Huntington’s Chorea. Pioneered at the Massachusetts General Hospital, the technique is employed by Dr Peter Harper at the Welsh National School of Medicine.