Researchers hope that stem cells treatment may help men who have Peyronie’s disease, the condition which makes the penis difficult to achieve a straight erection. About 3 to 9 per cent of men have the disease that damages the membrane surrounding the chambers within the penis that swell with blood during arousal.
In a breakthrough study, the researchers could repair damaged parts of the penis vital for proper erections with the help of stem cells. The treatment restored full erections, improved blood flow and accelerated healing in rats.
Wayne Hellstrom of Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, and colleagues, extracted stem cells from fat and placed them onto layers of tissue taken from the lining of pig intestine.
This material, called small intestinal submucosa (SIS), is already used to replace damaged membrane in men with Peyronie’s disease, but Hellstrom wanted to see whether adding stem cells would improve healing.
Two months after therapy, tissue analysis showed less scarring and higher levels of regenerative agents such as fibroblast growth factor which accelerate healing in rats treated with SIS plus stem cells compared with those treated with SIS alone.
“The stem cells induced factors that enhanced blood supply, tissue restoration and erectile function,” New Scientist quoted Hellstrom as saying.
Production of enzymes that make a blood vessel relaxant vital for erections was also higher in rats given the stem cells.
Hellstrom hopes to be able to offer a similar treatment to men.