in Leeds and the USA have developed a gold
standard for fertile sperm, in a major
step towards understanding male infertility.
lecturer in obstetrics and gynaecology, Dr
David Miller worked with colleagues in the
USA to analyse genetic fingerprints from a
range of sperm samples.
cells have a complex genetic fingerprint made
up of components called messenger RNA (mRNA).
The researchers identified around 3000 individual
mRNAs for the fertile male, creating a genetic
benchmark for comparisons with infertile sperm.
Future analysis should identify the defective
genes that contribute to infertility and show
whether some of the mRNA in healthy sperm
could contribute to the viability of the zygote
now have direct evidence that sperm carry
a molecular fingerprint that can
tell us a great deal about what it takes to
make healthy fertile sperm, and by extension,
what might be missing in infertile sperm,
said Dr Miller. We also think these
fingerprints contain a record of the whole
process of sperm production, including, perhaps,
clues to environmental effects that might
be causing the reduction in sperm counts observed
over the past few years.
one in six couples experience difficulty in
conceiving a child, and male fertility problems
account for half of assisted reproductive
techniques. However, the underlying cause
of infertility is essentially unknown in about
two-thirds of men who undergo infertility