Method proves suc­cess­ful on men who un­der­went prostate surgery

New Straits Times - - World -

MEN un­able to have an erec­tion af­ter un­der­go­ing prostate surgery en­joyed nor­mal in­ter­course thanks to stem cell ther­apy, sci­en­tists re­ported yes­ter­day at a med­i­cal con­fer­ence in Lon­don.

In first-phase clin­i­cal tri­als, eight out of 15 con­ti­nent men suf­fer­ing from erec­tile dys­func­tion had sex six months af­ter the one­time treat­ment, with­out recourse to drugs or pe­nile im­plants.

The pos­i­tive re­sult showed no signs of flag­ging dur­ing a sub­se­quent year-long mon­i­tor­ing pe­riod.

“As far as we know, this is the first time that a hu­man study with a 12-month fol­low-up shows that the treat­ment is last­ing and safe,” said Lars Lund, a pro­fes­sor at Odense Univer­sity Hospi­tal in Den­mark who took part in the tri­als.

“That is much bet­ter than tak­ing a pill ev­ery time you want to have in­ter­course,” Lund said.

The re­sults were promis­ing enough to con­vince Dan­ish health au­thor­i­ties to autho­rise so-called phase 3 “dou­ble-blind” ran­domised tri­als in which a group of men is given stem cell ther­apy and an­other place­bos.

Only men re­cov­er­ing from prostate can­cer and able to con­trol their blad­ders would be en­rolled in the new ex­per­i­ments, Lund said.

To per­form the pro­ce­dure, doc­tors re­move fat cells from a pa­tient’s ab­domen via li­po­suc­tion.

The cells un­dergo a brief treat­ment and emerge as all-pur­pose stem cells, meaning they can mu­tate into al­most any spe­cialised cell in the body.

“We do not cul­ti­vate the cells or change them in any way,” said Lund’s col­league Martha Haahr, head re­searcher and lead au­thor of a study de­tail­ing pre­lim­i­nary re­sults, pub­lished last year in EBioMedicine.

The stem cells are in­jected with a sy­ringe into the pe­nis, where they spon­ta­neously be­gin to change into nerve and mus­cle cells, as well as the en­dothe­lial cells that line blood ves­sels.

Men are un­der gen­eral anaes­the­sia while all of this hap­pens, and are dis­charged from hospi­tal the same day.

Prostate surgery is re­spon­si­ble for about 13 per cent of erec­tile dys­func­tion cases.

Up to 80 per­cent of men ex­pe­ri­ence dif­fi­culty hav­ing sex im­me­di­ately af­ter an op­er­a­tion, pre­vi­ous re­search has shown.

Di­a­betes ac­counts for 40 per cent of erec­tile dys­func­tion cases, and vas­cu­lar dis­ease an­other 30 per­cent.

Men with di­a­betes would be the next tar­get group for clin­i­cal tri­als, Lund said.

The re­sults re­ported at the Euro­pean As­so­ci­a­tion of Urol­ogy con­fer­ence could be an ef­fec­tive “ther­a­peu­tic op­tion for pa­tients suf­fer­ing erec­tile dys­func­tion from other causes”, Haahr said.

It is es­ti­mated that nearly half of men be­tween the ages of 40 and 70 ex­pe­ri­ence erec­tile dys­func­tion to some de­gree.

The global mar­ket for drugs treat­ing the dis­or­der is ex­pected to top US$3.4 bil­lion (RM15 bil­lion) by 2019.

Fail­ure to per­form sex­u­ally could also, in some men, re­sulted from re­la­tion­ship prob­lems, per­for­mance anx­i­ety or re­pressed ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity, Haahr said. AFP

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