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1 September 2005
Enlarged Prostate Treated With Botox®
by George Atkinson

An enlarged prostate, or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) as it is known in medical terms, is a non-cancerous growth of the prostate gland that can interfere with urination. It is one of the most common diseases affecting older men, with current estimates indicating that more than 50 percent of all men over the age of 60, and 80 percent of all men by the age of 80, will have enlarged prostates. Around half of the men who develop enlarged prostates will suffer from symptoms which include more frequent urination, urinary tract infections and the inability to completely empty the bladder. In severe cases, damage to the bladder and kidneys can result from BPH.

Treatments for BPH do exist but they are often accompanied by unwelcome side-effects. "Most men consider an enlarged prostate and the irritating symptoms that accompany it as an inevitability of aging and may not seek help because currently available therapies can have serious side effects, including impotence," said researcher Michael Chancellor, professor of urology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

But Chancellor and his co-researchers believe they may have discovered a new avenue of treatment using Botox®. The researchers had previously demonstrated that injecting Botox® into the prostrate gland produced an improvement in symptoms such as the frequent urge to urinate, incomplete emptying of the bladder and low urine flow rate. Their new study, presented at the International Continence Society annual meeting, was carried out to investigate the exact mechanism by which Botox® works to reduce these symptoms.

The research involved injecting varying doses of Botox® into the enlarged prostate glands of rats. The researchers said the injections altered the cellular dynamics of the prostate, blocking the receptors that cause the contraction of the prostate and bladder muscles. By blocking these receptors, the muscles relax, allowing urine to flow more freely. According to the researchers, Botox® appears to alter specific cellular processes that contribute to prostate enlargement. "Alternative treatments are needed and we've taken an important step by demonstrating how Botox can work as a potential new therapy for the large number of men who suffer from this condition," concluded Chancellor.

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