A team of scientists from the South China University of Technology has designed a synthetic tissue that can reverse erectile dysfunction in pigs.
The finding demonstrates that artificial tunica albuginea (ATA) has great promise for treating penile injuries in humans or helping treat impotence.
The tunica albuginea (TA) mimics a fibrous sheath of connective tissue covering the corpus cavernosum of the penis which fills with blood during an erection, crucial to maintaining an erection.
Any damage to the tunica albuginea can sometimes be repaired by a supportive tissue patch from the tissue taken from elsewhere in the body and combining it with a network of proteins and other molecules. However, this patch doesn’t always effectively mimic the tunica albuginea and can also get rejected by the body’s immune system.
To overcome this issue, scientists used isotropic polyvinyl alcohol gel to create an artificial tunica albuginea. They ensured that the artificial tunica was strong enough to not bend, to maintain penile stiffness.
The artificial tissue was then tested in pigs, enabling them to have an erection. The pigs did not sign any sign of rejection of the artificial tissue even after a month.
Researchers hope the artificial tissue will result in similar results in humans.