Peyronie’s Disease & Stem Cells
Recent advances in stem cell technologies have provided a possible new treatment for Peyronie’s Disease (PD) in the future along with other urologic conditions such as incontinence, infertility and erectile dysfunction (ED).
Stem cells are self-renewing cells with a high degree of plasticity that can differentiate into multiple cell lines. They can be derived from embryonic, fetal, and adult tissue and used to repair genetically damaged tissue or altered organs. They can also be used in tissue engineering to repair a disrupted process.
Stem cells share the common feature of being able to differentiate into multiple different kinds of cells. During the process of differentiation, stem cells produce a variety of chemicals and growth factors that promote the growth and repair of a variety of damaged tissues. They also produce chemicals that regulate the body’s immune response, which can reduce inflammation.
With PD the chemicals secreted by the stem cells during the differentiation process are those that reduce the production of structural proteins that contribute to the formation of fibrous plaques which create the hardness and the curvature in PD.
However, research into the use of stem cells in the treatment of PD are still at an early stage.
Initial studies used animals who received stem cell-based treatments and showed improved erectile function compared to those who did not receive the same treatment, but these trials demonstrated no decrease in the size of plaques found in patients.
A study carried out in 2015 looked at the use of stem cell-based treatment for human patients suffering from PD. Instead of using stem-cells derived from the patient’s own tissues, the study used stem cells collected from placentas. These stem cell have a greater ability to differentiate when compared to adult stem cells and additionally are likely able to produce more growth factors.
After the injection of the stem cells, the study looked at changes to the volume of plaques found in the penis; the degree of curvature as well as erectile function at intervals of 6-weeks, 3-months and 6-months. The results were encouraging and showed improvements in some aspects of ED, as well as a reduction of size or entire disappearances of some of the plaques being treated.
Stem Cell Treatment Together With Shockwave Therapy
Shockwave therapy has been shown to activate and proliferate stem cells in several studies and shown promising results in osteogenic, myogenic and cartilage cell treatment.
So far, only two research studies have addressed the use of shockwave therapy with stem cell therapy in the field of sexual medicine and both of these studies were undertaken on animals. Initial findings have been encouraging, but further research is needed to see whether the techniques used will transfer to men with PD.