Gene Found for Male Fertility

May 28th, 2012
Gene Found for Male Fertility

Scientists have discovered a gene that is believed to relate to male fertility, specifically sperm production.

As a consequence of this vital research there are suggestions that a male contraceptive pill could be developed within the next 10 years. Further, some scientists think it may be possible that men could be given treatment which causes them to be permanently sterile; thus doing away with the vasectomy operation. This latter hope may even taken the burden of family planning away from women.

The finding is based on work carried out on mice whereby scientists investigated the Katnal1 gene. The latter didn’t work in some of the mice the researchers bred.

As well as helping men who no longer wish to father children, scientists believe the research may also be a route to helping men who are infertile. It’s even been suggested that this work could produce something fruitful as early as the next 5 years.

Katnal1 is involved in an important stage of sperm development. It apparently ‘nursemaids’ cells in the testicles nurturing and nourishing the sperm as it matures. However if the gene doesn’t work properly the sperm doesn’t mature.

One of researchers involved in the study Dr Lee Smith to the Daily Mail: “If we can find a way to target this gene in the testes, we could potentially develop a non-hormonal male contraceptive.”

Dr. Smith added: “The important thing is that the effects of such a drug would be reversible because Katnal1 only affects sperm cells in the later stages of development, so it would not hinder the early stages of sperm development and the overall ability to produce sperm.”

In reference to the idea of a male contraceptive pill being developed, Dr. Smith said: “If you asked someone in the street, especially a woman, if they’d trust a man to take a contraceptive, they’d say no.

“But data from studies shows that if people are in a loving relationship, the potential take-up of a male contraceptive is higher, especially if the woman is having side-effects from taking a hormonal contraceptive.”

For men who are infertile however Dr. Smith hopes that the research can develop gene therapy which cures the defective Katnal1 gene.

 

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