Gene transfer shows promise for erectile dysfunction

December 7, 2006

Early research on the use of gene transfer to treat erectile dysfunction shows promising results and suggests the potential for using the technology to treat overactive bladder and other conditions, according to researchers from North Carolina and New York.

Early research on the use of gene transfer to treat erectile dysfunction shows promising results and suggests the potential for using the technology to treat overactive bladder and other conditions, according to researchers from North Carolina and New York.

“In the small pilot study, this new therapy was well tolerated and safe,” said senior researcher George Christ, PhD, of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC. “It provides evidence that gene transfer is a viable approach to treating ED and other diseases involving smooth muscle cells.”

The study was published in the Nov. 30, 2006 online edition of Human Gene Therapy (2006; 18:1165-76).

A possible advantage of gene transfer, according to researchers, is that a single treatment could last for months. In the current study, improvements were maintained through the 24 weeks of study.

The study was conducted from May 2004 to May 2006 at New York’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine and New York University School of Medicine. Men ranged in age from 42 to 80 years, and in half the subjects, the cause of ED was diabetes or cardiovascular disease. Small DNA segments mixed with plasma were injected into the corpus cavernosum. The DNA stimulates production of proteins that cause relaxation of the smooth muscle cells and improve blood flow to the penis.

Participants who received the highest doses had apparent sustained improvements in ED as measured by the International Index of Erectile Function scale. The authors identified no safety issues with the treatment. A larger study that includes a control group is needed to confirm the safety and effectiveness of the treatment, they said.