Viagra has become a best-selling drug because of its ability to combat impotence. It works by increasing the dilatory effects of nitric oxide on blood vessels in the penis. Now, scientists at the University of Michigan may have discovered a different pharmacological way of causing erection Nature Medicine (Vol. 7, Issue 1, 01 Jan 2001).
Based on the hypothesis that removing an over-riding constriction of blood vessels in the penis—rather than actively causing vasodilation as Viagra does—can result in erection, Kanchan Chitaley and colleagues tested the ability of a compound called Y-27632 to cause penile erection in an animal model.
Y-27632 works by blocking a molecule called rho kinase, which activates myosin light chain, the contractile machinery of muscle tissue. When injected into rats, Y-27632 increased pressure in the corpus cavernosum—the erectile tissue in the penis—and caused erection.
Dr. Kanchan Chitaley
Department of Physiology
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109
Tel: +1 706 721 2781
Fax: +1 706 721 7299
(C) Nature Medicine press release.
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