Can Covid Lead to Impotence?

For a respiratory disease, Covid-19 causes some peculiar symptoms. It can diminish the senses of smell taste, leave patients with discolored “Covid toes,” or even cause a swollen, bumpy “Covid tongue.”

Now scientists are examining a possible link to an altogether unexpected consequence of Covid: erectile dysfunction. A connection has been reported in hundreds of papers by scientists in Europe North America, as well as in Egypt, Turkey, Iran Thailand.

Estimates of the magnitude of the problem vary wildly. A paper by Dr. Ranjith Ramasamy, director of reproductive urology at the University of Miami’s Desai Sethi Urology Institute, his colleagues found that the risk of erectile dysfunction increased by 20 percent after a bout with Covid. Other investigators have reported substantially higher increases in that risk.

When patients first started coming to Dr. Ramasamy’s clinic complaining of erection problems, “We dismissed it, thinking it was all psychological or stress induced,” he said.

But over time, he other physicians began to see a pattern, he said. “Six months after the initial infection, patients had gotten better overall, but they continued to complain of these problems,’’ including both erectile dysfunction low sperm counts, Dr. Ramasamy, who has written several papers on the topic, said.

At the outset of the pandemic, Dr. Emmanuele Jannini, a professor of endocrinology medical sexology at the University of Rome Tor Vergata, reported a strong link between erectile dysfunction Covid. When he compared men who had been ill with Covid with those who had not, he found that those who had been infected were nearly six times as likely to report impotence as those who had avoided the coronavirus.

“Communicating that the disease can affect your sexual life is a tremendously powerful message,” especially for men who still resist vaccination, Dr. Jannini said in an interview. “The evidence is very strong.”

Research from imaging scans biopsies indicates that the coronavirus can infect tissue within the male genital tract, where it may linger long after the initial infection. Scientists say it is too early to be certain that the link to erectile dysfunction is causal, since so many factors — psychological as well as physiological — play a role in producing maintaining an erection. The pandemic has led to social isolation a surge in anxiety depression, all of which may play a role.

“Men’s erections are more complicated than people think,” Dr. Justin Dubin, who co-wrote a paper about the adverse impact of Covid on men’s health, said.

“You need good blood flow, you need the nerves to be firing, you need good hormone levels, specifically testosterone,” he said. “But you also need to be in a good state of mind, you also need to be aroused. If any of these things go wrong, you may have an issue getting an erection.”

In that sense, the pandemic is the perfect confluence of converging factors for causing erectile dysfunction, Dr. Joseph Katz, a professor at Florida College of Dentistry, said. Dr. Katz stumbled on the issue of erectile dysfunction while investigating Covid’s effects on oral health.

Some researchers speculate that erectile dysfunction may be linked to the well-documented loss of the ability to taste smell experienced by Covid patients, because these senses play an important role in sexual arousal. “It is through smells that the arousal mechanism in the brain is ignited,” three Italian urologists wrote last year in a letter responding to Dr. Jannini’s paper.

At the very least, men need healthy blood vessels good blood flow in order to develop sustain erections. The coronavirus may damage blood vessels the lining of the vessels, called the endothelium, as it binds to the molecular receptors that are plentiful on endothelial cells.

The vessels may not constrict stretch as needed to allow for blood flow to the penis. Injury to the blood vessels may also contribute to more serious complications of Covid, like heart attacks, strokes abnormal clotting.

“Our entire vascular system is connected — it’s not an isolated penis problem,” Dr. T. Mike Hsieh, director of the men’s health center at University of California, San Diego, said.

But vascular problems can manifest in the sexual organs first, because the vessels there are so small. (Dr. Jannini calls erectile dysfunction “the canary in the coal mine” for cardiovascular disease.) Erectile dysfunction cardiovascular disease share risk factors — such as being severely overweight, having metabolic diseases like diabetes, smoking older age — which also increase the odds of having severe Covid.

“The artery for the penis is one-tenth the size of a coronary artery, when you have a narrower vessel, whether it’s a plumbing problem or a vascular problem, it will show up there first, even before you see it in a larger artery,” Dr. Hsieh said.

Erectile dysfunction can precede a heart attack by about five years, he said, can be an early signal that there are other underlying risk factors.

“When I see a guy for erectile dysfunction, they don’t just get a Viagra or Cialis prescription,” Dr. Hsieh said. “They get a referral to a primary care colleague or a cardiologist to make sure their cholesterol is in check, their diabetes is under control, to discuss weight management, lifestyle or dietary changes.”

Erectile dysfunction may point the way to better diagnosis of long Covid, Dr. Jannini said, or even deteriorating mental health.

“If you have a patient who survived Covid, you want to know if he has long Covid or not, just ask him how it’s going in bed,” Dr. Jannini said. “If he’s having a normal sex life, the possibility of him having serious long Covid is very, very low.”

Left untreated, erectile dysfunction can lead to further complications. Cases of Peyronie’s disease, a condition that causes curved, painful erections as a result of fibrous scar tissue built up in the penis, orchitis, the inflammation of one or both of the testicles, have developed in men who have had Covid, according to published research.

Men who don’t have normal erections for several months at a time may develop scar tissue fibrosis, which makes erectile dysfunction harder to treat may even lead to shortening of the penis.

Erectile dysfunction can resolve on its own, but Dr. Hsieh encouraged men with symptoms to see their physicians, sooner rather than later.

“If you’re having these problems, do not wait,” he said. “For the most part, we can get the guys’ sex lives back.”

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For a Shy Porpoise, Rare Good News

For a Shy Porpoise, Rare Good News

Catrin EinhornReporting on the animals who share the 🌎

To predict extinction, researchers used computer models that combined the genetic findings with other factors, such as birth rates. The results were clear: Vaquitas are very likely to survive if fishing deaths are stopped — but only if stopped entirely.

Even reducing the fishing deaths by as much as 80 percent would still lead to a 62 percent chance of extinction.

There’s basically no time left,” said Jacqueline Robinson, one of the study’s authors a postdoctoral genetic researcher. “Gill net fishing has to be halted immediately.”

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Harnessing Single Cell Analysis for Pharmaceutical Research

Drug discovery development depend on precise, high throughput techniques such as single cell analysis to identify validate appropriate drug targets perform preclinical clinical studies. However, it can be challenging for scientists to keep up with rapidly emerging studies that harness these cutting-edge techniques in innovative ways.

Download this article from 10x Genomics to learn about powerful applications of single cell analysis for supporting all stages of the drug discovery development pathway.

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Technique Talk: Purifying Plant-Based Endogenous Biomolecules

LIVE Webinar

Tuesday, December 7th, 2021
2:30 – 3:30 PM Eastern Time

Enroll Now

Transfection—the process of introducing exogenous genetic material to cells—is one of the most common techniques used in life sciences laboratories. However, researchers still face challenges when transfecting cells, especially low transfection efficiency cytotoxicity.

In this Technique Talk, Sandy Tseng will explore how to troubleshoot transfection issues, discuss alternatives to chemical transfection, offer tips for achieving optimal transfection efficiency.

Learning Objectives

  • Understthe critical parameters for optimal, consistent transfections
  • How to measure transfection efficiency
  • Alternatives to chemical transfection their pros cons

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Meet the Instructor:

Sandy Tseng, PhD
Technical Support Manager
Mirus Bio

TSU Sponsored By


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Sheldon Krimsky, Who Warned of Profit Motive in Science, Dies at 80

Sheldon Krimsky, a leading scholar of environmental ethics who explored issues at the nexus of science, ethics biotechnology, who warned of the perils of private companies underwriting influencing academic research, died on April 23 in Cambridge, Mass. He was 80.

His family said that he was at a hospital for tests when he died, that they did not know the cause.

Dr. Krimsky, who taught at Tufts University in Massachusetts for 47 years, warned in a comprehensive way about the increasing conflicts of interest that universities faced as their academic researchers accepted millions of dollars in grants from corporate entities like pharmaceutical biotechnology companies.

In his book “Science in the Private Interest” (2003), he argued that the lure of profits was potentially corrupting research in the process undermining the integrity independence of universities.

But his wide-ranging public policy work went way beyond flagging the dangers inherent in the commercialization of science. The author, co-author or editor of 17 books more than 200 journal articles, he delved into numerous scientific fields — stem-cell research, genetic modification of food DNA privacy among them — sought to pinpoint potential problems.

“He was the Ralph Nader of bioethics,” Jonathan Garlick, a stem-cell researcher at Tufts a friend of Dr. Krimsky, said in a phone interview, referring to the longtime consumer advocate.

“He was saying, if we didn’t slow down pay attention to important check points, once you let the genie out of the bottle there might be irreversible harm that could persist across many generations,” Dr. Garlick added. “He wanted to protect us from irreversible harm.”

In “Genetic Justice” (2012), Dr. Krimsky wrote that DNA evidence is not always reliable, that government agencies had created large DNA databases that posed a threat to civil liberties. In “The GMO Deception” (2014), which he edited with Jeremy Gruber, he criticized the agriculture food industries for changing the genetic makeup of foods.

His last book, published in 2021, was “Understanding DNA Ancestry,” in which he explained the complications of ancestry research said that results from different genetic ancestry testing companies could vary in their conclusions. Most recently, he was starting to explore the emerging subject of stem-cell meat — meat made from animal cells that can be grown in a lab.

Mr. Nader, in fact, had a long association with Dr. Krimsky wrote the introduction to some of his books.

“There was really no one like him: rigorous, courageous, prolific,” Mr. Nader said in an email. “He tried to convey the importance of democratic processes in open scientific decision making in many areas. He criticized scientific dogmas, saying that science must always leave open options for revision.”

Credit…Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

Sheldon Krimsky was born on June 26, 1941, in Brooklyn. His father, Alex, was a house painter. His mother, Rose (Skolnick) Krimsky, was a garment worker.

Sheldon, known as Shelly, majored in physics math at Brooklyn College graduated in 1963. He earned a Master of Science degree in physics at Purdue University in 1965. At Boston University, he earned a Master of Arts degree in philosophy in 1968 a doctorate in the philosophy of science in 1970.

He is survived by his wife, Carolyn Boriss-Krimsky, a playwright, artist author, whom he married in 1970; a daughter, Alyssa Krimsky Clossey; a son, Eliot; three grandchildren; a brother, Sidney.

Dr. Krimsky began his association with Tufts in what is now called the Department of Urban Environmental Policy Planning in 1974 helped build it up over the decades. He also taught ethics at the Tufts University School of Medicine was a visiting scholar at Columbia University, Brooklyn College, the New School New York University.

He began to explore the conflicts of interest in academic research in the late 1970s when he led a team of students on an investigation into whether the chemical company W.R. Grace had contaminated drinking wells in Acton, Mass.

Dr. Krimsky has said that when the company learned that he would be releasing a negative report — the wells were later designated a Superfund site — one of its top executives asked the president of Tufts to bury the study fire him. The president refused. But Dr. Krimsky was disturbed that the company had tried to interfere, it prompted him to begin studying how corporations, whether or not they had made financial contributions, sought to manipulate science.

“He spoke truth to power,” Dr. Garlick said. “He wanted to give voice to skepticism give voice to the skeptics.”

Dr. Krimsky was a longtime proponent of what he called “organized skepticism.”

“When claims are made, you have to start with skepticism until the evidence is so strong that your skepticism disappears,” he told The Boston Globe in 2014. “You don’t in science start by saying, ‘Yes, I like this hypothesis it must be true.’”

He was a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science headed its committee on scientific freedom responsibility from 1988 to 1992. He was also a fellow of the Hastings Center on Bioethics served on the editorial boards of seven scientific journals.

When he wasn’t working, he liked to play the guitar harmonica. He divided his time between Cambridge New York City.

“Shelly never gave up hope of a better world,” Julian Agyeman, a professor in Dr. Krimsky’s department its interim chairman, was quoted as saying in a Tufts obituary. “He was the consummate activist-advocate-scholar.”

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