Ongoing research into PFS

Ongoing research into PFS

PFS is a variable and potentially devastating condition, but its molecular mechanism(s) are currently unclear. The predispositions that cause a subset of men to develop PFS from as little as a single exposure to a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor remain unknown. Reported symptoms include (but are not limited to) loss of libido, erectile dysfunction, suicidal ideation, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, cognitive impairment, Peyronie’s disease, penile shrinkage, gynecomastia, muscle atrophy, metabolic changes, digestive problems, severely dry skin and tinnitus. The condition often has a life-altering impact on victims and their families, such as job loss and the breakup of marriages and romantic relationships, while also being linked to suicides.

Elucidation of the biological mechanisms of PFS is critical to the development of treatments for the many patients suffering. It is also essential for consumers to be adequately informed of the associated risks of 5-alpha reductase inhibitor products, as the syndrome remains unacknowledged by the pharmaceutical industries and regulatory systems across the globe.

A major study into PFS is ongoing at the Baylor College of Medicine. Titled “Genetic and Epigenetic Studies on Post-Finasteride Syndrome Patients”, the research is being led by Mohit Khera, M.D., M.B.A., M.P.H., Assistant Professor of Urology in the Scott Department of Urology and Director of the Laboratory for Andrology Research, McNair Medical Institute at BCM. The objective of the study is to determine why PFS patients develop sexual dysfunction. To this end it will:

  • evaluate sexual and psychological function
  • assess hormone levels
  • measure penile hemodynamic and sensory parameters
  • study androgen receptor genetics and gene expression
  • determine gene expression patterns and profiles

The second research initiative is phase two of Roberto Cosimo Melcangi PhD’s research at the University of Milano, which will build on the Neuroendocrinology Unit’s Phase I study, titled “Neuroactive steroid levels and psychiatric and andrological features in post-finasteride patients”. That study was published in the July 2017 issue of The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. According to that research, PFS patients suffer from altered levels of critical brain-function regulators, including neuroactive steroids, and those with severe erectile dysfunction suffer from neuropathy of the pudendal nerve.

The second phase of Professor Melcangi’s investigation focuses on possible epigenetic changes in PFS patients, with a focus on the function of the 5 alpha reductase enzyme. The team will also explore the following in an animal model of PFS:

  • behavioral parameters
  • alterations in neurogenesis
  • neuroinflammation
  • neurotransmitter pathways involved in the control of sexual function
  • possible epigenetic changes in 5alpha-reductase
  • Possible changes of the gut microbiota composition

Both of these ongoing studies and the previously published research into PFS have been funded by the PFS Foundation through direct donations. If you or a loved one are suffering from PFS, we encourage you to donate to support further research initiatives into the condition. For more information on these studies and previously published research into the condition, please visit the PFS foundation website.

Notable Replies

  1. Very good post. Keep us updated.

  2. Interesting that both ongoing studies are focused on epigenetic changes caused by pfs, with the Baylor study going on 5 years now and the Melcangi Italian study started in the last year or so.

    Why would the PFS foundation fund two studies into the same issue/cause? Has Baylor decided to stonewall with the release of their study so the foundation had to fund a second one? Are the two studies looking at different types of epigenetic changes so that’s why there are two? Maybe the foundation lost faith in Baylor and decided to cover their bases with a second study. Insights?

  3. I think it is fair to assume that both studies will have a different focus on epigenetic changes and/or will use different methods to look at them. I don’t have any inside knowledge, but reading the study announcements it is clear that both studies will look at a lot of different things besides epigenetic changes and it is also clear that the Italian study will look at epigentic changes at the level of the 5ar enzym specifically, while the Baylor study appears to have a much broader focus.

    These people know what they are doing, so I am sure they won’t all look at the same stuff and that overlap will be minimised (although confirmation of changes from two different teams with different data sets has some value, too).

    From what people have written here and on SolvePFS, the Baylor study is ongoing and it’s just a lot of data to process. That’s why it takes so long. But apparently, the results will be significant. Let’s wait and see. These two studies will hopefully increase our knowledge of PFS significantly.

  4. I would really like to have a status update of the Baylor study.

    When is the expected publishing date as of now?

    I understand, that science takes its time. But in my opinion the scientist and the foundation should be sensible for thousands of victims desperetaly waiting for this study. So the least they could do is keeping us better informed about the status and why it takes them soooo freaking long…

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