By using nanotechnology - the science of tiny particles -researchers have created a fast-acting treatment for impotence that could rival Viagra.
The treatment has so far only been tested in animals but the researchers behind it say the same approach could also benefit humans.
Viagra and other drugs take time to show their effects, as they have to be taken orally. Some users can suffer side-effects such as headaches, facial flushing and indigestion, reports The Times.
The nanoparticle approach, by contrast, worked in less than 10 minutes and its effects seem to be limited to the relevant parts of the body, according to the researchers.
Kelvin Davies of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, who oversaw the research, said the results showed the potential for "nano-medicines".
He said the nanoparticles "can facilitate transport of erectogenic agents. It localises the therapeutic impact without the potential consequences due to systemic absorption".
The study will be published at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association.
In the research, Davies and colleagues loaded the nanoparticles with nitric oxide, a chemical that occurs naturally in the body where it makes blood vessels expand and fill with blood.
They applied the particles to the skin of rats bred to suffer from impotence. They observed a rapid and strong response.