New drug for sex hits spot

In one of the first medical applications of nanotechnology, the science of tiny particles, scientists have developed a fast-acting treatment for impotence that could rival Viagra.

The drug's minute particles can be absorbed through the skin, causing a sexual response within minutes.

The treatment has so far been tested only in animals but the researchers behind it say the same approach could also benefit humans.

Viagra and other drugs have to be taken orally, meaning they take some time to be digested and then have effects throughout the body. Some users can suffer side-effects such as headaches, facial flushes and indigestion.

The nanoparticle approach, by contrast, worked in less than 10 minutes and its effects seem to be limited to the relevant parts of the body, according to the researchers.
The leader of the research, Kelvin Davies of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, said the results showed the potential for "nanomedicines".

"It localises the therapeutic impact without the potential consequences due to systemic absorption," he said.

The study will be published today (AEST) at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association.

Viagra has become one of the world's most popular medicines.

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