Nanoparticle Drugs' First Target: Improving Your Sex LifeS

We've mentioned before the amazing promise nanoparticles hold for our future health: zapping tumors, destroying drug-resistant bacteria, and diagnosing lung cancer. But it looks like the first nanoparticle drug we'll see on the market treats a more intimate problem.

Nanoparticles, objects less than 100 nanometers long in any direction, are already in use commercially and in medicine. Manufacturers integrate nanoparticles into socks to fight bacteria and odor (possibly poisoning wildlife in the process), and medical professionals use them in cancer research, brain imaging, and artificial hearts. But it looks like the era of nanoparticle-based drugs is just dawning, as one of the first such drugs has just passed animal testing.

So what does the first of these new wonder drugs treat? Erectile dysfunction. Researchers are working on a topical cream that employs nanoparticles to treat ED with fewer side effects. Nanoparticles are wrapped around traditional ED medications, allowing those medications to remain in their gaseous form until they are applied directly to the affected area. This allows the ED to be treated without the side effects that come with pills delivering the same medications, such as headaches, nausea, and dizziness.

Treating erectile dysfunction may not be on the same level as treating cancer, but the principles the researchers believe that the principles involved in their topical cream will apply to future nanoparticle-based drugs down the line. They have just finished a successful test of the cream on rats and plan a human trial some time in 2011.

The Era of Nanoparticle Drugs Begins With Erection Cream [Discover Magazine via Reddit]