Next time you are in NY, instead of thinking of rats as a sanitation issue, think of it as the animal that could potentially save your life…and maybe your sex drive.
A recent discovery made by Massachusetts General Hospital’s researchers may have just saved countless lives of men. According to the New York Times, Mass General has ventured into the world of bioengineering in hopes of reproducing functional human organs; more specifically, kidneys, which have been derived from rats.
About 17,000 people with end-stage kidney disease receive a donor organ each year in the United States, but more than five times as many patients are on waiting lists. In 2011, nearly 5,000 people died while awaiting transplants. Bioengineered kidneys, especially if made using nonhuman sources, could ease or eliminate this organ shortage.
Essentially, a donor kidney from a rat is stripped of its original cells, which are then replaced with human cells. This process, known as decellularization, which was pioneered by Dr. Ott, a lead researcher on the study, exposes the organ’s extracellular matrix, which provides a blueprint for the role of the incoming new cells.
While this research is still under development to improve techniques and success rates, the end result holds a promising future for individuals suffering from Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), a medical condition in which one or both kidneys are damaged and incapable of filtering blood. The damage these kidneys sustain cause waste build up in the body leading to multiple health problems. While women are more likely to acquire CKD, 50% of men diagnosed with this disease are more likely to advance into End Stage Renal Failure (ESRF), the final stage of CKD. At this point of the progression, the only viable treatment options are dialysis or a transplant. However, with the prospects of a solution visible on the horizon, the possibility of waiting for a kidney transplant or utilization of dialysis decrease significantly.
But why is this information so crucial for men to understand? Well, according to BBC News, men, most especially those in their 40s-60s, are more likely to acquire Type 2 Diabetes. As stated by the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC), uncontrolled diabetes is the number one contributor to ESRF. And yet, the benefits of this medical advancement continue into men’s sexuality. When waste from the kidney is not filtered, the body responds by slowing down. In addition, since the kidney is a part of the endocrine system, the hormones needed to perform during intercourse may be unbalanced, thus lowering a man’s sex drive.
Photo: Randi Deuro/Flickr