Advances in molecular biological techniques, completion of the Human Genome Project, and the ensuing age of molecular medicine, in conjuction with the sum of a decades-long accumulation of knowledge of the physiology of erection and the pathophysiology of erectile dysfunction have converged to make gene therapy for erectile dysfunction a distinct possibility. In short, both the intrinsic complexities of mechanisms responsible for ensuring normal erection and the multifactorial nature of erectile dysfunction ensure that there is a relatively vast number of physiologically relevant molecular targets for gene therapy. As such, perhaps it is not surprising that virtually every preclinical gene therapy strategy/target examined thus far has been largely successful in ameliorating conditions associated with compromised erectile function in vivo and/or in vitro. This report highlights the goals and strategies of gene therapy for erectile dysfunction and reviews the strategies that initially have been employed. In short, the preclinical data, while still quite preliminary in many regards, are nonetheless quite impressive and encouraging. If similar success is obtained in clinical trials, gene therapy for erectile dysfunction may provide the first concrete "proof of concept" for using gene therapy in the treatment of human smooth muscle disorders.
ASJC Scopus subject areas