Scientists have developed an artificial tissue that has successfully restored penile function in pigs and promises to be used on humans one day.
The “bionic penis” effectively mimics a fibrous sheath of tissue necessary to maintain erections, called the tunica albuginea, which pumps blood to the penis.
About half of men between the ages of 40 and 70 are said to suffer from some form of erectile dysfunction, while around 5% suffer from Peyronie’s disease, which is believed to occur as a result of sexual injury.
Experts from the South China University of Technology in Guangzhou, China, said the pigs involved in their study had regained normal erection function thanks to artificial tunica albuginea (ATA).
Scientists have developed an artificial tissue that has successfully restored penile function in pigs and promises to be used on humans one day. The synthetic fabric effectively mimics a fibrous sheath of tissue needed to maintain erections, called tunica albuginea
WHAT IS A WHITE SHIRT?
The tunica albuginea is the protective layer around the erectile tissue of the penis that pumps blood to this area.
It is directly involved in maintaining an erection as Buck’s Fascia constricts the erection veins of the penis, preventing blood from escaping and thus maintaining the erect state.
The tunica albuginea can be damaged during intercourse, causing Peyronie’s disease.
“We had largely anticipated the problems and results of the ATA construction process, but we were still surprised by the results of animal experiments, where the penis returned to normal erection immediately after using the ATA. said study author Xuetao Shi, a researcher at South China University of Technology.
“The greatest benefit of ATA that we report is that it performs tissue-like functions by mimicking the microstructure of natural tissues.
“This design approach is not limited to biomimetic design of tunica albuginea tissues, but can be extended to many other load-bearing tissues.”
Shi said his team’s research has now turned to solving problems related to male reproductive health, including erectile dysfunction, infertility and Peyronie’s disease, a connective tissue disorder in which tissue scar forms in the tunica albuginea, causing pain.
While many previous studies have focused on repairing the urethra, Shi said less research has focused on restoring erectile function.
However, this is not the first time researchers have attempted to repair damaged tunica albuginea tissue.
The difference is that in the past, studies have looked at making patches from other tissues in a patient’s body, but the problem with this is that their immune system often rejects them or complications arise.
Because their microstructures are different from that of natural tunica albuginea, it is also difficult for these patches to effectively replace natural tissue.
To solve this problem, researchers at the South China University of Technology developed polyvinyl alcohol-based ATA, which has a curly fiber structure similar to that of natural fabric.
As a result, the artificial material has biomechanical properties that mimic those of tunica albuginea.
The first thing the researchers needed to do was determine if the synthetic material was toxic to other tissues in the human body, as it is designed to stay in the body for a long time, and found that it should not be harmful.
They then tested the ATA on miniature pigs with wounds to their tunica albuginea.
Scientists found that the patches made from the artificial tissue restored erectile function to such an extent that it was almost the equivalent of normal penile tissue.
They then analyzed the artificial tissue a month later and found that it helped achieve a normal erection after injecting saline into the penis.
“Results one month after the procedure showed that the ATA group had good repair results, although not perfect,” Shi said.
Scientists found that patches made from the artificial tissue (bottom right) restored erectile function to such an extent that it was almost the equivalent of normal penile tissue (top left). Bottom left shows the penis following an injury to the tunica albuginea
Shi noted that in penile injuries, the tunica albuginea is usually not the only damaged tissue.
Surrounding nerves and the corpora cavernosa, the spongy tissue that runs through the shaft of the penis, are also often damaged, making repairs even more difficult.
“Our work at this point is focused on repairing a single tissue in the penis, and the next step will be to look at repairing the entire penile defect or constructing an artificial penis from a holistic perspective.” , Shi added.
He said his team now wants to study techniques to repair other tissues, including the heart and bladder.
In their paper, the researchers wrote, “ATA displays the ability to repair injury and restore normal erectile function to penile tissue damaged by ATA in a porcine model.
“Our study demonstrates that ATA holds great promise for penile injury repair.
The study was published in the journal Matter.
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HOW DOES A PENIS FRACTURE?
A fracture of the penis occurs when the appendix is subjected to violent, blunt trauma, which can occur during vigorous intercourse or masturbation.
Since 1924, 1,600 cases have been recorded worldwide – around 16 cases a year, the Telegraph previously reported.
The researchers noted that in 50% of cases, a horrible cracking sound can be heard. Four out of five male victims lost their erection.
Those who have already been traumatized by the rupture of their penis often end up with problems with erectile dysfunction and a lifetime of painful sex.
Blood flows into the corpora cavernosa that run along the penis and make it hard during an erection.
The trick to stopping penile injuries is to thrust fairly shallow, according to sex expert Tracey Cox.
Holding your partner close using a grinding rather than pushing motion will also reduce the risk, she told MailOnline.