Sperm Gene Discovery May Lead To Non-Hormonal Male Contraceptive

Posted: May 25, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Featured Article Academic Journal Main Category: Fertility Also Included In: Genetics;Men's Health Article Date: 25 May 2012 - 2:00 PDT

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Currently, the only male contraceptives available rely on disrupting the production of hormones like testosterone, which can cause unpleasant side effects such as acne, irritability and mood swings.

First author Dr Lee Smith is Reader in Genetic Endocrinology at the University of Edinburgh's Centre for Reproductive Health. He told the media:

"If we can find a way to target this gene in the testes, we could potentially develop a non-hormonal contraceptive."

The gene, called Katnal1, is critical to enabling sperm to mature in the testes.

Finding a way to regulate the gene could potentially stop the sperm maturing and render them ineffective.

Not only could this form the basis of a new type of male contraceptive that does not involve disrupting hormone levels, it could also lead to new treatments for male infertility caused by a faulty Katnal1 gene.

"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," explained Smith.

"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 a unique and significant step forward in our understanding of testis biology," he added.

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Sperm Gene Discovery May Lead To Non-Hormonal Male Contraceptive

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