Discovery of erectile dysfunction gene paves the way for new treatments

09 October 2018 - 12:21 By AFP Relaxnews
50% of men do not respond to erectile dysfunction treatments currently available, says geneticist Eric Jorgenson.
50% of men do not respond to erectile dysfunction treatments currently available, says geneticist Eric Jorgenson.
Image: 123RF/tuomaslehtinen

Researchers have identified a genetic variant that is partially responsible for erectile dysfunction, a development that could help improve treatment, according to a study published in a US journal.

Men who have a copy of this variant have a 26% increased risk of facing erectile dysfunction compared to the average population, said the findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Those with two copies of the variant face a 59% higher risk, according to geneticist Eric Jorgenson, the study's lead author.

The results were based on a database of 36,649 patients of Kaiser Permanente Northern California.

The average population risk is of one in five men, according to a 2007 study in the United States, but the ratio increases sharply with age.

About a third of erectile dysfunction risk is linked to genetic factors. According to the new study, the genetic variant Jorgenson and his colleagues identified alone accounts for 2% of the risk.

Obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease all have genetic components and are also linked to erectile dysfunction.

"We know that there are other factors for erectile dysfunction including smoking, obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and men who address those factors can reduce their risk of erectile dysfunction," said Jorgenson.

"Because the region that we identified in the human genome appears to act independently of those risk factors, developing new treatments that target the variation in this genetic location has the potential to help those men who do not respond to current treatment."

He noted that about 50% of men do not respond to erectile dysfunction treatments currently available. 

The study's results were validated by studying a second database in Britain.


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