Monday, 14 June 2010

Regenerative Medicine

The peyronie's disease picture in 2010 isn't entirely bleak. Oral treatments such as pentoxifylline and mechanical methods like vacuum and traction therapy are 'finally' gaining an increased level of acceptance amongst urologists. Various positive studies on these treatments have also been published and are featured on the site. Actual peyronie's disease specific breakthroughs, though, are still sadly lacking. Aside from Xiaflex, legitimate future treatments are nowhere to be seen. Thankfully medical advances are happening in other areas which may eventually help sufferers of this condition.

Regenerative medicine may sound rather otherworldly to most people, but positive advances are being made in this field at a furious pace. The 'Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine' research institute, based in North Carolina, US, have engineered various cell and tissue types, and last year reconstructed penile tissue.

The process of regenerating the corpora cavernosa involves harvesting smooth muscle, multiplying the cells in a laboratory, implanting a 3D scaffold within the patient and then injecting the cells into that scaffold. In the rabbit model the whole process took about a month and resulted in a fully functional penis. In theory the rabbit model shouldn't differ all that much from a human one. The cells would be the patients own too and so shouldn't be rejected (no need for immunosuppressive drugs). This technology is in fact already used in humans. Functional human bladders have been regenerated and implanted for quite some time (source).

In the BBC News article, Professor Anthony Atala, the director of the institute, goes on to state that this technology may eventually be able to aid patients in need of penile reconstruction due to reasons of "congenital abnormalities, penile cancer, traumatic injury and some cases of erectile dysfunction". While he does not mention peyronie's disease by name his description covers aspects of the condition. It's worth pointing out that he was previously a urologist and as such likely has a good knowledge of peyronie's disease and recognises that there is a potential application of the technology to this area.

I'll write a follow up post when there is anything of note to add.