Medtronic has the potential to be a trend setter with its attempt to have drug eluting stents (DES) treat erectile dysfunction (ED).
The device maker recently moved one step closer in this effort as it reported that it had completed its ZEN (Zotarolimus-Eluting Peripheral Stent System for the Treatment of Erectile Dysfunction in Males with Sub-Optimal Response to PDE5 Inhibitors), feasibility study.
The device, which hasn't been named yet, will be inserted into the pelvic area of the body. More specifically the stent is delivered using a catheter threaded up to the pelvis, where the pudendal artery is located. It was placed in the artery, opening the vessel and allowing for better blood flow.
In a large number of cases, ED is caused by vascular disease due to the deterioration of the endothelium. The company said that its DES is ideal because it preserves endothelial function of the native vessels.
The theory behind the stent treatment is that, ED could be thought of as a sort of penile angina and could in fact be treated much the same way the heart is treated by DES.
But not all ED stems from the same causes. Sometimes there are confidence and psychological issues associated with the condition. In order to totally corner this market Medtronic is going to have to do some hefty research and really drill down to determine what the patient population would be. That’s going to bethe company's greatest challenge.