Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Gene Discovery Could Lead To Male Contraceptive

Date:
April 10, 2009
Source:
University of Iowa
Summary:
A newly discovered genetic abnormality that appears to prevent some men from conceiving children could be the key for developing a male contraceptive, according to scientists.

A newly discovered genetic abnormality that appears to prevent some men from conceiving children could be the key for developing a male contraceptive, according to University of Iowa researchers reporting their findings in the April 2 online edition of the American Journal of Human Genetics.

Although female oral contraceptives were developed over 40 years ago and have proven very effective for family planning, no similar pharmacological contraceptive has been developed for males. Surveys conducted by the Medical Research Council Reproductive Biology Unit in the United Kingdom, suggest that men would be willing to use a pharmacological contraceptive if one was available. Presently the only contraceptives available for men are condoms or a vasectomy.

"We have identified CATSPER1 as a gene that is involved in non-syndromic male infertility in humans, a finding which could lead to future infertility therapies that replace the gene or the protein. But, perhaps even more importantly, this finding could have implications for male contraception," said Michael Hildebrand, Ph.D., co-lead author of the study and a UI postdoctoral researcher in otolaryngology at the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine.

The research team, which included scientists from the University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences in Tehran, Iran, discovered the male infertility gene while studying the genetics of families from Iran -- a population that has relatively high rates of disease-causing gene mutations.

Although the team's research with these Iranian families focuses on identifying genetic causes of deafness, collecting genetic information from this population allowed the researchers to identify two families where male infertility that was not part of a syndrome appeared to be inherited. The affected men's infertility was diagnosed with a routine semen analysis.

Focusing on a group of genes that have been implicated in male infertility in mice, the researchers found that mutations in both Iranian families occurred in a single gene called CATSPER1. DNA analysis revealed two different mutations -- one in each family -- but both mutations would likely lead to either a very truncated, non-functional version of the protein, or no protein at all. Neither mutation was found in the DNA of 576 Iranian individuals who were screened as controls.

Harvard University studies on mouse models that lack the CATSPER1 gene reveal how sperm is affected when the protein is missing or abnormal. These studies show that CATSPER1 mutations affect sperm motility, specifically the very vigorous hyperactive motion the sperm uses when it is entering the egg during fertilization.

"Our research suggests that the defect in sperm hyperactivity that is seen in mice without CATSPER1 will also occur in humans with the genetic mutation," Hildebrand said. "Identification of targets such as the CATSPER1 gene that are involved in the fertility process and are specific for sperm -- potentially minimizing side effects of a drug targeting the protein's function -- provide new targets for a pharmacological male contraceptive."

Several approaches to male contraception are currently under investigation at other institutions. One approach that could potentially target CATSPER1 is immunocontraception where antibodies are developed that bind to a targeted protein and block its function. Immunocontraception is still in early stages of development and in order to be useful it will need to be proven effective, safe and reversible.

The UI research team was led by Richard Smith, M.D., the Sterba Hearing Research Professor and vice-chair of otolaryngology. Matthew Avenarius, now a graduate student at University of Michigan, was study co-lead author with Hildebrand. Avenarius was a research assistant in Smith's UI lab when the study was done.

The study was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health.



Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Iowa. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Iowa. "Gene Discovery Could Lead To Male Contraceptive." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 April 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090402124255.htm>.
University of Iowa. (2009, April 10). Gene Discovery Could Lead To Male Contraceptive. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090402124255.htm
University of Iowa. "Gene Discovery Could Lead To Male Contraceptive." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090402124255.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

AP (July 28, 2014) A bipartisan deal to improve veterans health care would authorize at least $15 billion in emergency spending to fix a veterans program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Reuters - US Online Video (July 28, 2014) Two American aid workers in Liberia test positive for Ebola while working to combat the deadliest outbreak of the virus ever. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins