Move over little blue pill and make room for the blue light. It sounds like something out of science fiction. But ETH biotechnologists say they’ve made it a reality. This is a way to use gene therapy in conjunction with a blue light to overcome erectile dysfunction. Of course, ETH knows there will be a high demand for this technique.
After age 60, it is estimated that 50% of men suffer from some level of ED. Though Viagra and its brethren dilate blood vessels in the penis to make erections easier, they do not cause an erection to occur. They merely facilitate the process. Instead, ETH says they now have a therapy that gives men with ED the ability to create and sustain healthy erections reliably, any time they wish. Dr. Martin Fussenegger, a professor of Biotechnology and Bioengineering at the Department of Biosystems (D-BSSE) developed the technique on ETH’s campus in Basel, Switzerland.
So how does it work? A gene agent that reacts to blue light is first injected into the penile tissue. Once activated by the light, a molecule called guanosine triphosphate (GTP) is converted to the messenger molecule cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP)—present in many of our tissues and organs. This activity closes calcium channels in cells, lowering the calcium level and relaxing the muscles and blood vessels, allowing for more blood flow. As a result, the penis becomes hard. Another enzyme is added that slowly absorbs cGMP so to allow the penis to soften over time. The blue light causes an erection to occur, not sexual stimulation, Fussenegger points out.
This technique has proven successful in animal trials. Still, it doesn’t mean it will work in humans, though Dr. Fussenegger says the erectile apparatus is similar throughout the animal kingdom. More research and FDA approval is required before it is brought to a doctor or urologist near you.