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Erectile function restored with cell therapy in preclinical model

WINSTON-SALEM, NC (US), August 2019 – Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, with radical prostatectomy as a commonly chosen course of action. The reported rate of erectile dysfunction after prostate surgery for cancer is reportedly as high as 90 percent. When first- and second-line treatments for erectile dysfunction fail, implantable penile prostheses are utilized.

However, there are potential limitations to all of these treatments.

Cell therapy has provided promising outcomes for improvements in erectile function in pre-clinical studies. Stem cells have been proposed as a treatment for erectile dysfunction, mainly from three sources: adult, perinatal and fetal tissues. Stem cells derived from fat, bone marrow, urine, placentas, umbilical cords and amniotic fluid have shown some level of improvement in erectile dysfunction models. 
Although each stem cell population has been separately evaluated in various short (two weeks) or middle-term (four to six weeks) preclinical in vivo experiments, one important question should be addressed: whether each stem cell population from different sources achieves similar outcomes for recovery in a severe erectile dysfunction model after long-term follow-up. 
In this study, researchers at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine tested the therapeutic impact of three cell types – amniotic fluid-derived stem cells, umbilical vein endothelial cells and adipose-derived stem cells — to determine the long-term therapeutic effect on erectile function recovery in a rat model of dual neurovascular-injury erectile dysfunction. The cells were injected intracavernously into the penile tissue. Saline injection served as a control group. Erectile function and analyses of penile tissues were assessed 12 weeks later.
All three cell treatment groups showed a significant improvement in erectile function, as compared to the saline-injected control group. However, the amniotic fluid-derived stem cells had a better recovery potential.
The researchers concluded that the long-term therapeutic effect achieved promising outcomes in restoring erectile function and improving neuromuscular regeneration and endothelial repair in vivo, which may provide an alternative approach to the treatment of patients with ED after radical prostatectomy or severe pelvic neurovascular injury.

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