Scientists from the universities of Oxford and Exeter looked at the genes of 6 175 men from the UK, Estonia and the US. Picture: Public Domain Pictures

London - A gene that could cause impotence has been uncovered by Oxford scientists.

A study of 6 000 impotent men found mutations in the SIM1 gene played a key role. It is thought to be the first time a single gene has been linked to erectile dysfunction, which affects one in five men.

Although the condition can be caused by lifestyle factors such as smoking and cycling, the research suggests that some men are at higher risk.

Scientists from the universities of Oxford and Exeter looked at the genes of 6 175 men from the UK, Estonia and the US and compared them to the records of men who did not have the condition.

The SIM1 gene has previously been linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

Researchers, whose work was published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, hope their discovery will pave the way for new drugs to target the gene, eventually curing the condition.

Daily Mail