Let's face it!  The type of medical research that makes it into the
public media is most often salacious, unusual or causes people to
snicker, such as penis shrinkage stories.  A recent article in  
European Urology funded by the European Society for Sexual
Medicine is truly a positive first of its kind step in finding an
effective treatment for Peyronies Disease (PD).  As far as I can tell,
this research has not received any attention from the popular
media. In order to understand this research effort, we will have to
review some medical terms and the anatomy of the penis.  

Elastin is a protein that coils and recoils like a spring within the
elastic fibers of connective tissue and accounts for the stretching
of structures such as the skin, blood vessels, heart, intestines and
penis.  Elastin functions in connective tissue function together with
collagen.  Whereas collagen provides rigidity to connective tissue,
elastic provides elasticity.  Elastin can be stretched up to 150% of
its length and helps determine the stretched length and width of
the penis.  The synthesis of elastin occurs throughout a lifetime.  
Disruption of elastin or a decrease in elastin content will result in
penile deformity, erectile dysfunction and shortening and narrowing
of the penis.  PD plaque consists primarily of collagen and this
plaque has an abnormally low content of elastin.

Adipose Stem Cells - Stem cells are undifferentiated or "blank" cells
found in the human body that have the potential to develop into
many different cell types that carry out different functions. Adipose
cells are fat cells. Therefore adipose stem cells or ADSCs are stem
cells that originate from fatty tissue.

This introduction to Peyronies is from the research paper and is one
of the best introductions to our disease I have read.

The tunica albuginea (TA) of the penis is composed primarily of
collagen bundles and elastic fibers and encloses the corpus
cavernosa of the penis. Peyronies is a localized connective tissue
disorder which is characterized by a disturbance of the collagen and
elastin tissue.  Peyronies consists of an active phase - impaired
clearance of the injury induced  inflammation leading to aberrant
wound healing.  During the later chronic phase there is disturbed  
collagen-elastin deposits. This will result in hardened plaque (scar
tissue) and deformity (curvature) when there is an erection.

                                              Anatomy of the penis

This is the first of its kind study in the field of regenerative medicine to use   
ADSCs to treat very early stage Peyronies Disease in the hope of stopping the
progression of our disease.  A total of 27 - 12 week old laboratory rats were
used for this experience.  This flow chart illustrates the protocol.

  • Rats injected with the Transforming Growth Factor exhibited a
    diminished response to penile stimulation, but treatment with ADSCs
    improved the response

  • Rats injected with the Transforming Growth Factor developed extensive
    abnormality of the collagen and elastin fibers

  • After injection with ADSCs the further development of these
    abnormalities was largely prevented and the elastin and collagen
    structure was largely preserved

  • The non injected side of the penis served as an additional control for     
    this experiment

  • This is the first experiment to demonstrate a possible and effective
    cellular strategy to limit fibrotic changes to the tunica albuginea and
    corpus cavernosa

My comments - This is an extremely encouraging experiment and
this is the field - regenerative medicine - is where the cure will be
found. The ADSC treatment was effective in preventing the
disturbance of elastin and collagen fibers.  To get an idea of the
significance between regular and Peyronies fibers click the image
in the left margin of this page.  This is the key to our disease and
the cure.

One reason it is important to obtain and read the entire research
article as opposed to the much shorter abstract is that much
important information is omitted from the abstract. Omitted from
this abstract, but discussed in the complete article, is that these
stem cells appeared to stay predominantly in the local tissue.  One
of the great concerns in stem cell research is that the cells will
enter the bloodstream and multiply wildly.  It appears this did not
happen in this experiment.  Another very positive development.  
The authors end the article by correctly (and for most of us and of
extreme importance) asking whether or not this treatment can
reverse chronic Peyronies plaque.  
Current experiments are  
targeting mature Peyronies.
 I wrote this  research physician for
further information, but unfortunately, did not receive a response.  

The most important questions are how do we move this type of
research further along and how can we expedite this.  I only wish I
had the answer.
Elastin Disease
To see what normal
and Peyronies
penile tissue looks
like and the
difference between
them, Click on the
picture below.
This will better help
you understand this
Citation for article Castigliione
F and al, Eur Urology (2012)

For more on
medicine click photo
Regenerative Medicine, Peyronies Disease