Emerging tools for erectile dysfunction: a role for regenerative medicine

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| Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the most common sexual disorder reported by men to their health-care providers and the most investigated male sexual dysfunction. Currently, the treatment of ED focuses on ‘symptomatic relief’ of ED and, therefore, tends to provide temporary relief rather than providing a cure or reversing the cause. The identification of a large population of “difficult-to-treat” patients has triggered researchers to identify novel treatment approaches, which focus on cure and restoration of the underlying cause of ED. Regenerative medicine has developed extensively in the past few decades and preclinical trials have emphasized the benefit of growth factor therapy, gene transfer, stem cells and tissue engineering for the restoration of erectile function. Development of clinical trials involving immunomodulation in postprostatectomy ED patients and the use of maxi-K channels for gene therapy are illustrative of the advances in the field. However, the search for novel treatment targets and a wealth of preclinical studies represent a dynamic and continuing field of enquiry.

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