Lab-grown penis brings hope to men

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Washington, Nov 10 (ANI): Researchers at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center's Institute for Regenerative Medicine say they have found a way to replace penile erectile tissue and function in animals.

According to them their tissue engineering methods could one day help reconstruct and restore function to damaged or diseased penile tissue in men.

The researchers reported success, using cells from rabbits to grow replacement penile erectile tissue for the animals in the laboratory.

After implantation with the replacement tissue, the rabbits had normal sexual function and produced offspring.

This is the most complete replacement of functional penile erectile tissue reported to date.

"Further studies are required, of course, but our results are encouraging and suggest that the technology has considerable potential for patients who need penile reconstruction," said Anthony Atala, M.D., institute director.

"Our hope is that patients with congenital abnormalities, penile cancer, traumatic injury and some cases of erectile dysfunction will benefit from this technology in the future," he added.

Reconstructing damaged or diseased penile erectile tissue has traditionally been a challenge because of the tissue's unique structure and complex function. There is no replacement for this tissue that allows for normal sexual function.

Various surgeries have been attempted, often multi-stage procedures that can involve a silicone penile prosthesis, but natural erectile function is generally not restored.

At Wake Forest, the researchers set out to solve this problem by working to engineer replacement erectile tissue in the lab.

"These results are encouraging. They indicate the possibility of using laboratory-engineered tissue in men who require reconstructive procedures. A lack of erectile tissue currently prevents us from restoring sexual function to these patients," said Atala.

The study has been reported online in the Nov. 9-13 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (ANI)

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