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Author Topic: The secret life of sperm is unlocked  (Read 5947 times)
mensfe_admin
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Paul Rodgers reports - Independant 2nd August.

Thoughsands of infertile couples could be spared the pain, anquish and expense of fruitless IVF treatments thanks to the discovery of a lock-and-key mechanism between sperm and egg cell.
The research could explain why so many couples with no apparent reproductive problems are unable to conceive. Although more than 40,000 in vitro fertilisation cycles are prescribed in Britain each year, only 10,000 births result.
(Sorry guys this is incorrect data success rates for IVF are between 40% and 50% - Mensfe admin).

In addition to the 5000 cost of a cycle the couples face huge amounts of stressand can suffer severe depression and in some cases divorce. "Our work has quite a lot of relevance for humans and society and one of the main ones is infertility." said Dr Martin Brinkworth, a member of the team at the university of Leeds and Bradford that discovered the lock-and-key mechanism.
Some 15% of couples have trouble conceiving about half of them are because the man has a problem. But in only a third of the time is the cause obvious, such as a low sperm count, malformation or poor swimming ability. This leaves 2 per cent of the male population about 330,000 adult men in the UK (not all of them trying to have a children) who are infertile with no discerning reason.

The research by the Leeds - Bradford scientists and parallel work by a US team at the university of Utah, fundamentally changes our understanding of the importance soerm has in the developing embryo.
Although the egg and the sperm each supply half the DNA for the new baby the egg provides all the cellular support systems including enzymes and proteins. Until now it was thought that sperm simply delivered the fathers tightly packed DNA to the egg leaving control and regulation of the process to the mothers DNA.

But the two teams of scientists, have found that some genes are left exposed in sperm in an "open confirmation" allowing them to play an important role in the development of the embryo. "It contradicts the dogma that egg does everything," said Dr Brinkworth, a senior lecturer at the university.

The British team has also identified how these "open" areas are formed and evidence that they can be read by the egg suggesting that they act as a signiture or key identifying the species sperm comes from the signalling whether DNA is in good shape.

Although no clinical tests are available now researchers are hopefull that one can be developed after the have identified all the DNA bases in the open areas, some of which might be usable as markers.
The mollcule at the heart of the lock-and-key mechanism is a protein called CTCF, say the scientists in a paper published in the research journal "Genome research".
   
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Simon.S
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This is rich - why can it not come sooner - there seems to be so little reseach on men - mens sperm or not - that is.
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