Erectile Dysfunction, commonly known as “ED” is defined as the inability to achieve or maintain an erection to a sufficient degree to perform sexual intercourse. This condition affects nearly 50% of men between the ages of 40-70. There are a multitude of causes and exacerbating factors, such as certain medications, chronic illnesses affecting blood flow, excessive alcohol consumption, or simply age-related factors. Temporary ED symptoms can be caused by drug use, alcohol, or excessive tiredness. Often, medications taken to treat other, unrelated conditions can affect blood flow to the penis and contribute to erectile dysfunction. At one time, the term “impotence” was synonymous with ED, but this term carries a negative context of “less of a man,” and as science has learned more about the cause and treatment of erection-related disorders this term has been abandoned for the most part. Although having occasional periods of difficulty with erections is not necessarily a cause for concern, ongoing erectile dysfunction over a long period can cause stress, affect self-confidence, and strain interpersonal relationships with one’s partner. Erectile dysfunction can also be a sign of an unrelated, but underlying, condition and sometimes treating these underlying conditions can also aid in treating the ED itself; but for most patients, further treatment is required.
A promising new clinical trial is showing evidence that stem cells can help restore sufficient blood-flow and aid in improving erectile function, allowing affected men to have spontaneous and enjoyable sexual experiences. Although this is the first time stem cell therapy has been considered in the treatment of this condition, autologous stem cells have already been shown to treat a wide variety of conditions from Rheumatoid Arthritis to Parkinson’s disease. Stem cell therapy is being utilized to treat Peyronie’s disease, a hypertrophied scar formation of the penis leading to a severe curvature to one side. ED is often one of the unfortunate complications of Peyronie’s disease, but both can be treated with significant improvement, and further deterioration prevented by deploying stem cell. In recent years, research has been done into the development of stem cell therapies for erectile dysfunction, but results were not sufficient enough to allow patients to achieve full sexual intercourse. The new clinical trial reports that patients treated recovered sufficient erectile function to initiate and enable functional intercourse without medication, external hardware, or long waiting periods.
The procedure utilizes autologous (from the patient’s own tissue) adipose-derived stem cells. A couple of ounces of fat are harvested from the patient’s own abdomen by mini-liposuction, under local anesthesia. The Stromal Vascular Fraction (SVF), or tissue juice- rich in stem cells, growth factors, and cytokines, is then separated from the fat cells, and filtered to prevent clumps and emboli. The SVF, with its tens of millions of stem cells, are ready to deploy intravenously and by direct injection into the penis. According to one published paper in the literature, within six months of treatment, around a third of the patients reported improved sexual function, and further reported that the effects lasted over a year which illustrates the potential for long-term results. On the whole, all 21 participants in the study reported a marked improvement in erectile function. For those who did not experience spontaneous erectile improvement, the stem cell therapy allowed their existing medication regime to work more effectively. Other prospective participants were considered ineligible for functional results due to their ED being secondary to radical prostatectomy.
Researchers are, on the whole, pleased with the preliminary results, especially in those patients who had seen little or no results from traditional ED medications. Many participants reported sustained results over 12 months following the trial with no additional treatments. While this is a preliminary trial with a small sample of participants, the results point to a viable opportunity to promote stem cell therapy as a treatment for erectile dysfunction, and an important tool towards men’s health outcomes.
At the Gulf Coast Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center, we are actively engaged in research programs, managing a wide range of varied disorders, including orthopedic, degenerative, neurological, urological, autoimmune and ED. For ED we believe in a holistic approach, addressing the patient as a whole, and examining the possible causes of ED and addressing them. We find this approach pays dividends since by modifying the lifestyle and risk factors we can prevent further causation of the root causes. Among those are causes of the buildup of atheroma narrowing the penile artery, reducing the blood supply necessary for engorgement. Also, at GCSC we augment the stem cell deployment into the penis with prior activation of the reparative tissues to attract the stem cells to the sites of damage. This activation of tissues and stem cells is effected through the use of Extra-corporeal Pressure Activation Technology (EPAT), delivered by the more versatile, modified version of the original lithotripsy machine of 1980. That machine had revolutionized the removal of kidney stones without surgery- by simply shattering them with shock wave beams through the skin!
For more information about the diseases and disorders that we currently address and study, please call (866) 885-4823.