Feeds

US boffins hail lab-grown rabbit todger

Repaired lapines going at it like, erm...

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

US researchers have offered long-term hope to human sufferers of erectile disorder by restoring "sexual function" to rabbits with damaged penises.

The team from the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center grew new penile tissue in the lab. They implanted it into their lapine guinea-pigs and reported they were thereafter once more going at it like er, rabbits.

Specifically, the scientists "extracted smooth muscle cells and endothelial cells" from the animals' members. The former "relaxes, allowing blood to flow into the penis" during an erection, while the latter "line blood vessels [and] trigger the process by releasing nitric oxide".

Healthday News explains: "The cells were then separated and grown in the laboratory on rod-shaped collagen scaffolds for support. The scaffold was placed in an incubator and nourished by fluids to mimic conditions inside the body.

"After the cells had matured, the scaffolding and the newly formed penile spongy tissue, called corpora cavernosa, was surgically implanted into the rabbits' penises."

A month later, "the tissue began to reconstitute itself, forming new blood vessel structures necessary for proper functioning... while nerves from the existing penile tissue integrated into the new tissue".

Subsequent tests showed that that "pressure inside the penis, blood flow, response to nitric oxide, drainage of the blood after the erection and presence of sperm in the female vagina were also normal".

So normal, in fact, that four of a dozen female rabbits on hand to assist the study were impregnated by the reinvigorated males.

Dr Anthony Atala, lead author of the study which will appear in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, said: "We were able to show the tissue was able to integrate and function in the long term, which means we can start planning clinical applications [in humans].

"Our hope is to be able to treat patients with many conditions, including congenital abnormalities of the penis, traumatic injuries, penile cancer and severe cases of erectile dysfunction that don't benefit from drug treatments."

Dr Andrew McCullough, director of male sexual health, fertility and microsurgery at NYU Langone Medical Center, called the results "promising". He said: "It has a long way to go, but the researchers have basically shown they can take cells from an organ, culture them, put them back in and have them be functional.

"This is especially impressive because the penis is an organ that's a very sensitive hydraulic pump, so to speak. During an erection, blood has to flow into the organ. The organ then has to expand and then shut down the drainage so the blood doesn't flow back out. And all of these things are very interrelated."

McCullough concluded that better treatments for erectile dysfunction were a matter of priority for the 35 per cent of affected men who "don't respond to impotence drugs, including Viagra, Cialis and Levitra". ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
Bacon-related medical breakthrough wins Ig Nobel prize
Is there ANYTHING cured pork can't do?
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.