Men with erectile dysfunction (ED) after prostate cancer surgery could be helped by stem cell therapy that enables the body to regenerate, according to a new study in STEM CELLS Translational Medicine.
The study, conducted on rats, compares the effectiveness of using a byproduct of liposuction — uncultured stromal vascular fraction (SVF) — with adipose-derived stem cells (ADSCs) cultured in the lab to treat ED caused by injury to the cavernous nerve (CN). This nerve, which facilities erection, is sometimes injured during a radical prostatectomy to treat prostate cancer.
ADSCs are harvested from fat and are an attractive source of stem cells for several reasons:
- they are abundant and can be easily obtained using minimally invasive liposuction
- they have characteristics similar to bone marrow-derived stem cells in terms of self-renewal and multipotency
- ADSCs retain their ability to divide and grow longer than bone marrow-derived stem cells, which may be beneficial in treating chronic conditions.
Likewise, cultured ADSCs have limitations, including the cost and time of culturing them, the potential for contamination, changes in cell characteristics during culturing procedures, and their tendency to sometimes form tumors.
To avoid these risks, the study says that uncultured SVF has emerged as an easier and safer way to use stem and progenitor cells (which are further along in the differentiation process) derived from adipose tissue. SVF comes from the disposable byproduct of liposuction.