Hypogonadism is an affliction that manifests through unpleasant symptoms, the most important of which is a diminished level of testosterone. Although there are several ways to treat this disorder, most of them have important disadvantages.
A new solution proposed by Chinese scientists, which involves converting skin cells to testosterone-producing cells, may change the way patients are being treated.
Hypogonadism – A Problem Affecting Thousands Of Men
It is estimated that up to 30 percent of older men suffer from hypogonadism, which manifests through a reduced level of testosterone being produced in the body. This results in unpleasant symptoms like mood swings, sexual problems, muscle weakness and a reduced mineral density in the bones, making many of these men seek for a treatment to improve the quality of their lives.
So far, the existing treatments have resulted in imperfect solutions. One of them is the testosterone replacement therapy, which is efficient but can lead to further health complications, like prostate problems or the formation of blood clots.
Other solutions are based on stem cells, but this therapy also has its own risks. Beyond the fact that it is prohibitively expensive, the patients are also at risk of developing tumors. There are also numerous ethical concerns related to the use of this therapy, which leads to it being restricted in many countries.
Promising Results For Testosterone Treatment Trial
Considering the present situation, the researchers at Jinan University sought to find an alternative for the testosterone-producing cells, also known as Leydig cells. Instead of using stem cells, they managed to transform regular skin cells into Leydig-like cells, which were able to produce testosterone in laboratory conditions.
In order to learn even more about the efficiency of the treatment, the researchers transplanted such cells into the testes of rats diagnosed with hypogonadism. The results were positive, and the cells immediately started to produce testosterone. According to Zhijian Su, one of the authors of the study, this marks a great beginning for further studies.
“In the end, we are hopeful that this research will pave the way for clinical trials testing a novel regenerative medicine approach to treat androgen deficiency in men,” noted Su.
At present, the researchers are working on studying new methods for reaching cellular reconversion, in order to find the ones that would suit human patients the best. For the first stage of the study, they used lentiviral vectors to create the necessary changes in the cells, but now they are looking into other non-viral methods such as using small molecules.
Source : Techtimes