Erectile dysfunction: Stem cell therapy restores sexual function in phase I trial

Related image
By Honor Whiteman   

results of a clinical trial suggest that stem cell therapy may be a promising
treatment for erectile dysfunction, after the procedure was found to restore
sexual function in men with the condition.

stem cell therapy involves injecting the patients’ own stem cells – derived
from abdominal fat cells – into the erectile tissue of the penis.
researcher Dr. Martha Haahr, of Odense University Hospital in Denmark, and
colleagues found that within 6 months of the procedure, 8 of the 21 men treated
were able to engage in spontaneous sexual intercourse.
researchers recently presented their findings at EAU17 – the European
Association of Urology’s annual conference – held in London in the United
dysfunction (ED) is a condition whereby a man has difficulties getting or
maintaining an erection in order to engage in sexual intercourse.
to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases, around 12
percent of men under the age of 60, and 22 percent of men aged between 60 and
69, have ED.
blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, chronic kidney disease, and prostate
surgery are some of the physical conditions that can cause ED. Psychological
issues – such as anxiety, stress, depression, and low self-esteem – can also
contribute to ED.
treatments for ED include PDE5 inhibitors (such as Viagra), penile implants,
and injections. However, Dr. Haahr and team note that all of these therapies
can have significant side effects.
a result, researchers are on the hunt for alternative treatments for ED, and
stem cell therapy has emerged as a promising candidate in animal trials.
function improvements evident a year after treatment

their phase I trial, Dr. Haahr and colleagues tested stem cell therapy on 21
men who had ED as a result of undergoing radical prostatectomy for prostate
cancer. None of the men had responded to standard medical treatment for ED.
the stem cell procedure, abdominal fat cells were extracted from each man
through liposuction. Stem cells were then isolated from the fat cells and
injected into the corpus cavernosum of the penis – the spongy tissue that
normally becomes filled with blood during an erection.
the stem cell procedure and 6 and 12 months after, the participants’ erectile
function was assessed using the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF)
questionnaire. An IIEF score of 5-7 represents severe erectile dysfunction,
12-16 is mild to moderate erectile dysfunction, and 22-25 is no erectile
21 men saw their erectile function improve with stem cell therapy: their IIEF
score increased from 6 prior to treatment to 12 at 6 months after treatment.
of the men reported that they had been able to engage in spontaneous sexual
activity 6 months after stem cell therapy, and this outcome remained evident at
12 months after treatment. These men saw their IIEF score rise from 7 to 14
with stem cell therapy.
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,” says Dr. Haahr.

cell therapy ‘could be a long-term solution’ for ED

the study findings are preliminary, the team says that they show promise for
stem cell therapy as an effective treatment strategy for ED.
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,” says Dr. Haahr.
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.
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.”

Martha Haahr

researchers are now in the process of initiating a phase II trial to further
investigate the safety and efficacy of stem cell therapy for ED.

Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.