The latest clinical trials involving stem cell treatments for erectile dysfunction (ED) suggest these differentiating cells can restore some erectile function, allowing impotent men to have spontaneous sex (yet another reason to always carry a condom).
While these are the results of an early, Phase 1 trial, which focused on safety and dosage, they’re still erecting intrigue in the stem cell community and men looking for a solution to their ED.
A NATURAL CURE
Several stem cell researchers have been working on a stem cell cure for erectile dysfunction, but none have been able to help impotent men achieve full sexual intercourse.
The results presented by the European Association of Urology at a conference in London showed that 8 of 21 participating men regained ‘impulsive’ sexual function.
“What we have done establishes that this technique can lead to men recovering a spontaneous erection — in other words, without the use of other medicines, injections, or implants. We are now beginning a larger Phase 2 trial to better evaluate its effectiveness and confirm its safety,” says lead researcher Dr. Martha Haahr, from Odense University Hospital.
Today’s remedies for ED include medications like PDE5 inhibitors (Viagra, Cialis), injections, and penile implants. All are temporary solutions, each with their own disadvantages, which is why scientists are determined to discover a natural way to restore sexual function.
MAKING THE GRADE
The research group, from Odense in Denmark, extracted abdominal fat cells via liposuction as their stem cell source. Isolating the stem cells, the researchers injected said cells into the corpus cavernosum area of the penis for each patient. The participants were discharged that same day.
After a half year since the initial procedure, 8 of the 21 patients reported enough erectile function to achieve penetrative sex. The same patients maintained that erectile function for a year, suggesting this could be a long-term solution to ED in men.
Surveying the men using a widely-accepted IIEF questionnaire that measures erectile function, the group of 21 patients stated their score had increased from 6 before the stem cell treatment, to a 12 afterwards. For the men that recovered erectile function, however, their score increased from 7 to 14. For comparison, the average in men is a score of 25.
Still, this was sufficient for some men to experience spontaneous erections for penetrative sex, while others continued to rely on their medications.
A FAT CHANCE?
Though the trial is still considered early phase, the positive findings from this groundbreaking experiment are nonetheless significant for hopeful, impotent men.
“We are the first to use a man’s own fat stem cells as a treatment for erectile dysfunction in a clinical trial. The technique has been trialed in animal work, but this is the first time stem cell therapy has allowed patients to recover sufficient erectile function to enable intercourse,” explains Dr. Haahr.
“But we need to remember that this is a small trial, with no control group. We’re still some time away from a clinically available solution.”
Professor Jens Sønksen, a member of the EAU Scientific Congress Committee, added “This is interesting and novel research looking into the future. The study by Haahr and co-workers is preliminary and more research is needed on the topic.
“But there is no doubt that stem cell therapy will become an important tool in the treatment of erectile dysfunction.”
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