New York (AP) – Scientists say they’ve located the first well-documented genetic glitch that increases a man’s risk of impotence, a step that might someday lead to new treatments.
Most impotence isn’t caused by genetics but rather things like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, smoking, drug and alcohol use, stress or anxiety.
But in a study released Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers say they located a spot in human DNA where genetic variation might boost a man’s risk by about 25 percent.
They found statistical evidence for that by looking in the genetic makeup of about 36,600 men, and confirmed it in a similar study of 222,300 other men. Lab tests then suggested that variation might affect the activity of a nearby gene that’s known to be involved in sexual functioning.
Now scientists want to explore how such variation affects risk of the condition, said Eric Jorgenson, a researcher at Kaiser Permanente Northern California in Oakland and lead author of the paper. It may interfere with the functioning of certain brain circuits, he said.
He said discovering a biological explanation could give clues to developing new treatments for impotence, also known as erectile dysfunction.