Friday, October 23, 2009

Viagra Cures Jet Lag - in Argentine Hamsters, at Least

When I wrote Tuesday's blog entry on jet lag, I was unaware that, in 2007, Argentine biologist Diego Golombek (pictured here), of the Universidad Nacional de Quilmes, had received an Ig Nobel Prize in Aviation for his discovery that Viagra aids jetlag recovery in hamsters.

According to a summary of Golombek's research in a transcript of a Scientific American podcast, the hamsters suffered from grogginess and disorientation after Golombek and his assistants "booked them on the red eye from Buenos Aires to Bucharest - or the laboratory equivalent of turning on the lights six hours early." When that happened, "it took a while to figure out when to start running in their exercise wheels, which they usually do after dark. What the researchers found is that hamsters that were given Viagra the night before the time change recovered faster than hamsters that do it without the drug. Whether similar treatment would provide relief to weary world travelers is an experiment that's probably been inadvertently done, but not reported." Perhaps Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina has some experience with this.

In receiving his prize at the annual awards event in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Golombek stated that he “would like to thank my colleagues and my students for performing wonderful research that made us laugh and then think, and also for going to the drugstore to get the Viagra for all of us.”

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