Scientists Succeeded in recovering erectile dysfunction in pigs with artificial tissue

Sci­en­tists have suc­cess­ful­ly restored erec­tile func­tion in pigs with dam­aged penis­es using arti­fi­cial tissue.

“We were sur­prised by the results of ani­mal stud­ies that the penis quick­ly regained nor­mal erec­tion,” said Xue­tao Shi, a tis­sue engi­neer at Chi­na South­ern Uni­ver­si­ty of Technology.

About half of peo­ple with a penis have some form of erec­tile dys­func­tion between the ages of 40 and 70. Some peo­ple have Pey­ronie’s dis­ease, where scar tis­sue from past injuries caus­es pain and disability.

Treat­ment usu­al­ly involves trans­plant­i­ng tis­sue from anoth­er part of the body into the penis to replace the dam­aged area. How­ev­er, our immune sys­tem is good at reject­ing the inser­tion of bio­log­i­cal mate­r­i­al, and even suc­cess­ful grafts can cause prob­lems such as short­en­ing of the penis due to dif­fer­ences in tis­sue types.

So Muyuan Chai, a tis­sue engi­neer at South Chi­na Uni­ver­si­ty of Tech­nol­o­gy, and his col­leagues turned to syn­thet­ic tis­sue as a poten­tial alternative.

Mam­malian spongy erec­tile tis­sue is com­posed of par­al­lel, wavy fibers of col­la­gen (with a small amount of elastin) stacked togeth­er called tuni­ca albug­inea (TA). As the spongy tis­sue swells with blood, the fibers take up space while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly straight­en­ing and sup­port­ing everything.

In addi­tion, when the AT fibers are ful­ly stretched, they cre­ate stiff­ness, con­trol and lim­it shape change, and func­tion as a hydro­sta­t­ic frame­work that resists exter­nal deformation.

Researchers made syn­thet­ic fibers that mim­ic these fibers by test­ing dif­fer­ent com­po­si­tions in a bal­loon mod­el. When isotrop­ic polyvinyl alco­hol gel is stretched and cross-linked to arrange the fibers in par­al­lel, it expands and con­tracts in the same direc­tion as TA, and the entire erec­tile tis­sue changes from soft to hard.

Chai et al. named this bion­ic cre­ation “arti­fi­cial media” (ATA). It can with­stand fatigue, main­tain tough­ness, and with­stand nee­dle sticks dur­ing sutur­ing while repeat­ing relax­ation and stretching.

The syn­thet­ic fibers were then test­ed in pigs with AT lesions.

“One month after the inter­ven­tion, the ATA group had good but not per­fect repair,” says Shi.

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