Navigation Links
Protein could heal erectile dysfunction after cancer surgery
Date:6/8/2010

CHICAGO --- After men have surgery to remove a cancerous prostate gland, up to 80 percent of them will lose the ability to have an erection because of damage to a critical nerve that runs along the prostate.

New research from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine shows the damaged nerve can be regenerated more quickly with a protein called sonic hedgehog delivered via a nanofiber gel.

The study, done with rats, showed the protein regenerated the damaged nerve twice as fast as it would have regenerated on its own. Speeding up the nerve healing is essential in order to prevent cell death in the penis and to preserve erectile function.

"This discovery about sonic hedgehog could be applicable not only to erectile dysfunction after prostate surgery but also when the cavernous nerve is damaged by diabetes, which also causes erectile dysfunction," said principal investigator Carol Podlasek, assistant professor of urology at Feinberg and a member of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.

The whimsically named sonic hedgehog, with a wink to the popular video game character, is a vital building block in the body that promotes nerve regeneration and directs the activity of many other proteins in the body.

"There is a tremendous need for a therapy to treat erectile dysfunction caused by cavernous nerve damage," Podlasek said. Men's quality of life after prostate cancer surgery is of greater concern, she noted, because men are being diagnosed at a younger age and live longer due to improved cancer therapies.

"The biggest concern for many men before they undergo surgery for prostate cancer is quality of life after surgery" Podlasek said. "It not only affects the men undergoing surgery but also their partners."

A recent survey of patients undergoing prostate cancer treatment showed that 45 percent of patients were most concerned with quality of life after surgery, 29 percent with extending their life and 13 percent with delaying disease progression.

"So for patients with prostate cancer, being able to have an erection and lead a normal life after treatment is very important," she noted.

Nonsurgical treatments for erectile dysfunction are only effective in a minority of patients with cavernous nerve damage, she noted.

The new study findings may also apply to any damaged peripheral nerve, such as the sciatic nerve or facial nerve, that needs this protein to maintain its structure, Podlasek said.

Podlasek presented her study findings at the recent American Urological Association 2010 Annual Meeting.

When a man's cancerous prostate gland is removed, the fragile cavernous nerve is often damaged when it is crushed or pulled during surgery. Once the nerve is damaged, smooth muscle cells quickly begin to die in the penis. The consequent scarring prevents the smooth muscle from relaxing and allowing blood to flow into its tissue to become erect.

"Once the smooth muscle starts to die off, you don't get an erection or you get less of an erection," Podlasek said. "The muscle damage is irreversible, so it's essential to heal the damaged nerve as quickly as possible."

Her goal is to regenerate the nerve more quickly to reduce the damage downstream in the penis. "When the nerve is functional, you get normal erectile function," she said. "It's two pieces to a puzzle."

For the current study, Podlasek combined sonic hedgehog with a nanofiber gel designed by study coauthor Samuel I. Stupp, the Board of Trustees Professor of Chemistry, Materials Science and Engineering, and Medicine at Northwestern. The gel traps the protein as it self-assembles into linear nanofibers, which resemble slender threads made out of gel. Podlasek applied the nanofibers to crushed cavernous nerves in rats. When she examined the nerves six weeks later, they had regenerated twice as fast as they would have on their own.

In previous research, Podlasek saw a 63 percent decrease in smooth muscle cell death in the penis when sonic hedgehog was restored to injured cavernous nerves. Also in previous research, she found that decreasing sonic hedgehog in the penis caused smooth muscle cells to die.


'/>"/>

Contact: Marla Paul
marla-paul@northwestern.edu
312-503-8928
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. A balanced protein diet can reduce accumulation of nitrogen on dairy cattle farms by up to 35 percent
2. New function discovered in cancer prevention protein
3. Neural tissue contains imbalanced levels of proteins, U-M study finds
4. MIT chemists design new way to fluorescently label proteins
5. Bodys own proteins may lead the way in global fight against tuberculosis
6. Novel protein essential for successful pregnancy
7. Protein regulates enzyme linked to Alzheimers disease
8. Intracellular express -- why transport protein molecules have brakes
9. Protein power for Jack and the beanstalk
10. Study finds protein that plays key role in early embryonic development
11. Jefferson scientists identify a new protein involved in longevity
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/1/2016)... June 1, 2016 Favorable Government ... Administration and Criminal Identification to Boost Global Biometrics System ... released TechSci Research report, " Global Biometrics Market ... Forecast and Opportunities, 2011 - 2021", the global biometrics ... 2021, on account of growing security concerns across various ...
(Date:5/16/2016)...   EyeLock LLC , a market leader of ... an IoT Center of Excellence in Austin, ... of embedded iris biometric applications. EyeLock,s iris ... security with unmatched biometric accuracy, making it the most ... EyeLock,s platform uses video technology to deliver a fast ...
(Date:5/3/2016)... 3, 2016  Neurotechnology, a provider of high-precision ... Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) , a complete ... MegaMatcher ABIS can process multiple complex biometric transactions ... of fingerprint, face or iris biometrics. It leverages ... and MegaMatcher Accelerator , which have been ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Researchers at the Universita Politecnica ... in people with peritoneal or pleural mesothelioma. Their findings are the subject of a ... , Diagnostic biomarkers are signposts in the blood, lung fluid or tissue of ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Mass. , June 23, 2016   ... development of novel compounds designed to target cancer ... napabucasin, has been granted Orphan Drug Designation from ... the treatment of gastric cancer, including gastroesophageal junction ... stemness inhibitor designed to inhibit cancer stemness pathways ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016 Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital has ... Association to serve as their official health care ... Willowbrook will provide sponsorship support, athletic training services, ... coaches, volunteers, athletes and families. "We ... Association and to bring Houston Methodist quality services ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June, 23, 2016  The Biodesign Challenge (BDC), a ... ways to harness living systems and biotechnology, announced its ... in New York City . ... students, showcased projects at MoMA,s Celeste Bartos Theater during ... , MoMA,s senior curator of architecture and design, and ...
Breaking Biology Technology: