A group of scientists believe they’ve uncovered at least some of the genetic risk factors that can contribute to a common health concern among men: erectile dysfunction.
In the current study, researchers in the U.S. looked at the genes of nearly 37,000 men who were members of Kaiser Permanente, America’s biggest managed care organization, and who had volunteered their medical information and records. In these men, they identified a spot along the sixth chromosome that was associated with an added risk of erectile dysfunction. This location—known as a locus—was found near the SIM1 gene.
Having certain variations of this locus, the researchers found, was associated with a 26 percent increased risk of erectile dysfunction.
The gene SIM1 is known to encode proteins that help regulate body weight as well as erections in men. And the researchers think that something in the locus—namely other genes—influences how the SIM1 gene is expressed, either turning it off and on or enhancing its activity. In people genetically vulnerable to erectile dysfunction, this chain of command might not be working as intended.
…[T]he approach of using large patient genetic databases will help discover new targets for drugs that can help both men and women.
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