Pigs Might Hold the Cure to Erectile Dysfunction
Pigs, of course, are regarded as highly intelligent animals. According to the Humane Society, they’re smarter than dogs and three-year-old children, and videos depict them decorating their pigpens with flowers. Now, a new study suggests that such sentient swine might even be the key to treating erectile dysfunction — particularly an affliction called Peyronie’s disease.
To spare you from having to Google “Peyronie’s disease” — it ain’t pretty — I’ll provide the broad strokes here: It involves severe penile pain, curvature and shortening and often requires surgery because it’s caused by the accumulation of scar tissue in the layer of connective tissue outside of an erection known as the “tunica albuginea.”
This is where the pigs come in. Scientists have constructed a synthetic version of this tissue — not-so-cleverly called artificial tunica albuginea, or ATA — that might help restore these traumatized hard-ons. And while they haven’t tried it on humans, it worked like a charm on hogs’ hogs. “We largely foresaw the problems and results of the ATA construction process, but we were still surprised by the results in the animal experiments, where the penis regained normal erection immediately after the use of ATA,” study co-author Xuetao Shi, a researcher at the South China University of Technology, said in a press release.
He and his team developed the tissue in a lab and tested it on Bama miniature pigs, which are often used in research due to their similarities to humans. After watching the synthetic tissue for a month, “the procedure showed that the ATA group achieved good, though not perfect, repair results,” Shi explained. “The greatest advantage of the ATA we report is that it achieves tissue-like functions by mimicking the microstructure of natural tissues.”
Shi also pointed out that when there is an injury to the tunica albuginea, other tissues in the penis might be damaged as well, which is something he hopes to address in future studies. “Our work at this stage focuses on the repair of a single tissue in the penis, and the next stage will be to consider the repair of the overall penile defect or the construction of an artificial penis from a holistic perspective,” he said.
Bama miniature pigs everywhere would be standing at attention, but they need Shi to finish his research first.