Rule Five Viagra Alternative Friday

Yes, you read the headline right; yes, attending CPAC (not to mention being away from my beloved Mrs. Animal) has me in a rather odd frame of mind.  Turns out that the study of mouse erections has granted scientists insights into how better to deal with Erectile Dysfunction (ED) in humans.  That’s not to be confused with Electoral Dysfunction, which is how we ended up with Joe Biden as President.

By studying male mice’s erections, scientists discovered that two types of cells in the penis are essential for triggering and maintaining a boner. 

Although the cells are also abundant in the human penis, their crucial role in erections was previously unknown, according to a new study published Thursday (Feb. 8) in the journal Science.

“Because the mechanisms of penile erection are similar in mice and humans, these findings may be relevant to erectile dysfunction in aged men,” Ji-Kan Ryu of the Inha University School of Medicine and Gou Young Koh of the Institute for Basic Science in South Korea, wrote in a commentary of the new study.

The findings may point to new ways of treating erectile dysfunction in humans, the study authors wrote in their paper. Standard drugs like Viagra don’t work for up to 30% of patients and they can’t be used by those who take certain medications or have specific medical conditions.

Note: I can neither confirm nor deny that the juxtaposition of this topic on Rule Five Friday is coincidental.

Now, as to mice boners; it turns out that something called a fibroblast is involved – and presumably in humans as well, as humans and mice are surprisingly close, taxonomy-wise.

While nitric oxide is a key player in this process, it’s not the only one. In their new study, the researchers were interested in studying fibroblasts, cells that make connective tissue and that are the most abundant type of cell in the human corpora cavernosa. The team wanted to understand whether these cells help control blood flow to the penis.

One can only imagine what getting funding for his research was like – a squeaker, no doubt.  The application couldn’t have been anonymouse, no matter how embarrassing the subject might have been if the study had produced no results.

Speaking as a biologist, though, this remains an interesting piece of work – although I hasten to note that I’ve never had that difficulty attributed to one man in five, although, now that I’m in my sixties, I feel the need rather less often than when I was nineteen (which need probably explains my first marriage.)

As always, there’s a catch:

“These new approaches will require rigorous preclinical and clinical testing to translate observations made in transgenic mice into therapies that are safe and effective in men,” Ryu and Koh concluded.

So, don’t hold your breath, men – or anything else, just yet.

So, with that on my mind – or perhaps not – I’m off to another morning at CPAC, which will probably prove, well, not as stimulating as Mrs. Animal, but interesting all the same.  (And, as noted, I’m not nineteen anymore.)  My goal is, as was the last couple of days, to hobnob with other media types, maybe ask some political figures some uncomfortable questions, make myself a goddamned nuisance, and generally afflict the comfortable. Stay tuned.