A pilot study conducted by Melman and colleagues at Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, the Bronx, New York, shows that gene therapy might help men with Erectile Dysfunction (impotence).
Eleven patients with erectile dysfunction, associated with diabetes or cardiovascular disease, were studied.
The procedure involves injecting a gene named hSlo (for the human slowpoke gene). This gene encodes a protein, which relaxes smooth muscle in the penis and allows blood flow into it.
The gene is incorporated into a packet of DNA called a plasmid, which acts as a carrier.
The lead investigator Dr. Arnold Melman told Reuters Health, " The results of the early-stage trial suggest that the technology worked. We have shown that we could give a safe vector, naked DNA, and the hSlo gene and obtain an expected physiological response without transfer-related side effects."
"The subjects were given a single injection ranging from 500 to 7500 micrograms of the hSlo plasmid into the corpus cavernosum of the penis and monitored for 24 weeks."
Patients who were given the two highest doses showed sustained improvement in erectile function. No serious side effects were observed.