Erectile dysfunction: Stem cell treatment helps restore sexual function

Men who suffer from erectile dysfunction may benefit from stem cell therapy, according to preliminary results of a clinical investigation, which discovered that the process can restore sexual function in those who suffer from the problem.

Researchers believe that stem cell therapy may be a successful therapeutic option for erectile dysfunction.
Researchers believe that stem cell therapy may be a successful therapeutic option for erectile dysfunction.

Using stem cell therapy, the penis is injected with the patient’s own stem cells, derived from abdominal fat cells, in order to restore function to the erectile tissue.

Dr. Martha Haahr of the Odense University Hospital in Denmark and her colleagues discovered that, within six months of the treatment, eight of the twenty-one males treated were able to participate in spontaneous sexual encounters with others.

The researchers recently presented their findings at EAU17, the annual conference of the European Association of Urology, which was held in London, United Kingdom.

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a medical condition in which a man has difficulty obtaining or keeping an erection in order to participate in sexual activity with another person.

As reported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, around 12 percent of men under the age of 60, and 22 percent of males between the ages of 60 and 69, are affected by erectile dysfunction.

Physical factors that might induce ED include high blood pressure, diabetes, heart illness, chronic renal disease, and prostate surgery, to name a few. Anxiety, stress, sadness, and low self-esteem are all psychological factors that can contribute to erectile dysfunction (ED).

PDE5 inhibitors (such as Viagra), penile implants, and injections are all currently available treatments for erectile dysfunction. Dr. Haahr and his team, on the other hand, point out that all of these treatments have the potential to cause serious negative effects.

Scientists are searching for alternatives to erectile dysfunction medications as a result of this, and stem cell therapy has shown promise in animal studies as a potential treatment option.

Improvements in sexual function were seen a year after treatment was completed

Dr. Haahr and colleagues conducted a phase I trial in which they evaluated stem cell therapy on 21 men who had developed erectile dysfunction as a result of undergoing radical prostatectomy for prostate cancer. None of the guys had responded to conventional medical treatment for erectile dysfunction.

Liposuction was used to remove abdominal fat cells from each man’s abdomen in preparation for the stem cell procedure. Stem cells were then extracted from the fat cells and put into the corpus cavernosum of the penis, which is a spongy tissue that fills with blood during an erection and is thought to be responsible for this.

The International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF) questionnaire was used to assess the participants’ erectile function before the stem cell operation, as well as six and twelve months after the procedure. A score of 5-7 on the IIEF indicates severe erectile dysfunction, a score of 12-16 indicates mild to moderate erectile dysfunction, and a score of 22-25 indicates no erectile dysfunction.

Every single one of the 21 males saw an improvement in erectile function following stem cell therapy, with their IIEF score increasing from 6 prior to treatment to 12 at 6 months after treatment.

After receiving stem cell therapy, eight of the males claimed that they were able to participate in spontaneous sexual activity six months following the procedure, and this result remained obvious at 12 months after the procedure. With stem cell therapy, these individuals witnessed an increase in their IIEF score from 7 to 14.

What Dr. Haahr and his team have done has established that this procedure can lead to men restoring their spontaneous erections – that is, without the use of other medications and injections, or the implantation of implants – says Dr. Haahr.

Stem cell therapy for erectile dysfunction ‘could be a long-term answer,’ according to researchers.

Despite the fact that the outcomes of the study are preliminary, the researchers believe they indicate that stem cell therapy may be a viable therapeutic option for erectile dysfunction.

“We are the first to conduct a clinical experiment in which we used a man’s own fat stem cells as a treatment for erectile dysfunction. Dr. Haahr explains that while the approach has been used in animal studies, this is the first time stem cell therapy has allowed patients to regain sufficient erectile function to engage in sexual activity.

“We are pleased with the preliminary outcomes, especially as these men had previously seen no effect from traditional medical treatment and continue to have good erectile function after 12 months follow-up, indicating that this might be a long-term solution.

This suggests the possibility of therapeutic options for patients suffering from erectile dysfunction from other causes. 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.”

Dr. Martha Haahr

Currently, the researchers are in the process of launching a phase II experiment to explore the safety and efficacy of stem cell therapy for erectile dysfunction (ED).

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