Gene discovery points towards non-hormonal male contraceptive
A new type of male contraceptive could be created thanks to the discovery of a key gene essential for sperm development.
The finding could lead to alternatives to conventional male contraceptives that rely on disrupting the production of hormones, such as testosterone and can cause side-effects such as irritability, mood swings and acne.
Research, led by the University of Edinburgh, has shown how a gene Katnal1 is critical to enable sperm to mature in the testes.
If scientists can regulate the Katnal1 gene in the testes, they could prevent sperm from maturing completely, making them ineffective, without changing hormone levels.
The research, which is published in the journal PLoS Genetics, could also help in finding treatments for cases of male infertility, when malfunction of the Katnal1 gene hampers sperm development.
Dr Lee Smith, Reader in Genetic Endocrinology at the Medical Research Council Centre for Reproductive Health at the University of Edinburgh, said: "If we can find a way to target this gene in the testes, we could potentially develop a non-hormonal contraceptive.
"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 production and the overall ability to produce sperm.
"Although other research is being carried out into non-hormonal male contraceptives, identification of a gene that controls sperm production in the way Katnal1 does is unique and a significant step forward in our understanding of testis biology."
Scientists funded by the Medical Research Council found that male mice, which were modified so they did not have the Katnal1 gene, were infertile.
Further investigation showed that this was because the gene was needed to allow the sperm to develop and mature.
The researchers showed that Katnal1 was needed to regulate a scaffolding structure, known as microtubules, which forms part of the cells that support and provide nutrients to developing sperm.
Break down and rebuilding of these microtubules, enable the sperm cells to move within the testes as they mature. Katnal1 acts as the essential controller of this process.
More information: Smith LB, Milne L, Nelson N, Eddie S, Brown P, et al. (2012) KATNAL1 Regulation of Sertoli Cell Microtubule Dynamics Is Essential for Spermiogenesis and Male Fertility. PLoS Genet 8(5): e1002697. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002697
Journal reference: PLoS Genetics
Provided by University of Edinburgh
- Genetic alteration linked with human male infertility Sep 30, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Gene involved in sperm-to-egg binding is key to fertility in mammals May 01, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Treating male infertility with stem cells Mar 02, 2007 | not rated yet | 0
- Worm sperm gives clue to male infertility Sep 05, 2006 | not rated yet | 0
- 'The pill' for him: Scientists find a hormonal on-and-off switch for male fertility Nov 30, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras
Apr 15, 2011 I'd like to open a discussion thread for version 2 of the draft of my book ''Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras'', available online at http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0810.1019 , and for the...
- More from Physics Forums - Independent Research
More news stories
University of Minnesota Medical School researchers from the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, in partnership with the University's Brain Tumor Program, have developed a new mouse model of malignant peripheral ...
Genetics May 20, 2013 | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
Northwestern University scientists have shown a gene involved in neurodegenerative disease also plays a critical role in the proper function of the circadian clock.
Genetics May 16, 2013 | 3 / 5 (1) | 1 |
Informed consent is the backbone of patient care. Genetic testing has long required patient consent and patients have had a "right not to know" the results. However, as 21st century medicine now begins to use the tools of ...
Genetics May 16, 2013 | 5 / 5 (1) | 3 |
Ethicists provide framework supporting new recommendations on reporting incidental findings in gene sequencing
In a paper published in Science Express, a group of experts led by bioethicists in the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Baylor College of Medicine provide a framework for the new American College of Medical Geneti ...
Genetics May 16, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
The use of genome-wide analysis (GWA), where the entirety of an individual's DNA is examined to look for the genomic mutations or variants which can cause health problems is a massively useful technology for diagnosing disease. ...
Genetics May 16, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
Is it permissible to harm one to save many? Those who tend to say "yes" when faced with this classic dilemma are likely to be deficient in a specific kind of empathy, according to a report published in the scientific journal ...
16 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0 |
Phthalates: Study links chemicals widely found in plastics, processed food to elevated blood pressure in children, teens
Plastic additives known as phthalates (pronounced THAL-ates) are odorless, colorless and just about everywhere: They turn up in flooring, plastic cups, beach balls, plastic wrap, intravenous tubing and—according to the ...
1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—Native peoples in regions where cameras are uncommon sometimes react with caution when their picture is taken. The fear that something must have been stolen from them to create the photo ...
18 hours ago | 4.2 / 5 (5) | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—Despite spending billions of dollars on research and development, drug companies have been unable to come up with effective treatments for dementia and Alzheimer's Disease (AD). Now, A. ...
15 hours ago | 4.9 / 5 (13) | 0 |
Australian scientists have charted the path of insulin action in cells in precise detail like never before. This provides a comprehensive blueprint for understanding what goes wrong in diabetes.
17 hours ago | 4.6 / 5 (7) | 0 |