Tuesday, October 26, 2010
The research team, led by scientists from the Pasteur Institute in Paris and Institute of Child Health in London, screened a group of 315 men who were unable to produce sperm, for mutations in the gene NR5A1.
The gene encodes for a protein that has a critical role in the development of the reproductive organs and in reproduction, and has previously been linked to problems with sexual development in both men and women.
The researchers found that seven of the effected individuals had mutations in this gene, while no mutations were found in a control group of 729 men who had normal sperm production.
Four of these men were also found to have altered levels of sex hormones, and another had testicular abnormalities, suggesting a link between the mutations and the problems with sperm production.
The study, published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, represents an important step in the search for genes that may be responsible for male infertility, which accounts for 30 to 50 percent of the fertility problems faced by couples trying to conceive.
The authors told the BBC: 'Approximately four percent of men with otherwise unexplained failure to produce sperm carry mutations in the NR5A1 gene'.
To date only a small number of genes have been linked to male infertility, with the majority of sperm production problems having no obvious cause.
Dr Allan Pacey, a fertility expert from Sheffield University said: 'Although this gene defect affects only a small number of men, we need more studies like this so we can fill in the gaps in
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
If you're trying to have a baby, it might be a good idea to keep an eye on your partner's cola intake, as a Danish researchers have found that big cola drinkers can have sperm counts up to 30 percent lower than normal.
Researchers at Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen University Hospital, were looking for a link between caffeine and male fertility but found lower sperm counts were not the result of the caffeine in cola, as was previously thought, PhysOrg.com reported.
The researchers studied sperm samples taken from 2554 young men during their physical examinations for Danish military service between 2001 and 2005. The men were also surveyed regarding their intake of caffeine from various sources, including cola, and asked questions about their lifestyle and diet.
Results showed that those with low to moderate total caffeine intake and cola consumption (up to 800mg per day caffeine and up to 14 500ml bottles of cola per week) didn't display any lowering of sperm count. But those with a high intake of caffeine and cola (more than 800mg per day and more than 14 500ml bottles a week) did show a lower sperm count, although the figure was only significant for those who drank a lot of cola.
The 93 men who drank a litre or more of cola a day displayed a much lower count.
Friday, March 12, 2010
The researchers are publishing the invention of the chip in the scientific journal Lab on a Chip.
Every year more than 10,000 couples in the Netherlands apply for help because of involuntary childlessness. A sperm analysis is typically the first step of fertility research. Testing sperm quality requires stringent pre-test preparations and a specialized laboratory. Tests often have to be repeated two to five times for sufficient reliability. If men can carry out the tests in the privacy of their own home this makes the procedure much less awkward for them. Moreover, the probability of a reliable diagnosis is increased as well. Finally, the researchers think that the costs for health insurers can be decreased too.
The chip developed by researcher Loes Segerink can accurately count spermatozoa. Concentration is an important indication of the sperm count: the norm for fertility is 20 million spermatozoa per millilitre of ejaculate. Simple home tests are available, but these can only indicate that the sperm count is 'above or below the norm'. These tests are too limited because they do not actually measure the concentration of spermatozoa.
On the new chip, the spermatozoa flow through a fluid channel, above which electrodes are fitted. When a cell flows under this 'bridge', its electrical resistance changes momentarily, and this event is counted. It is important that the count distinguishes between spermatozoa and other particles or cells in the fluid: if other particles are included the count will be unreliable. Segerink added minuscule balls to the fluid to test its selectivity. The method proved to be selective enough to distinguish between the balls and the spermatozoa. White blood cells were also distinguished by the chip. The number of white blood cells tells us something about sperm quality and so this is important additional information for the gynaecologist.
Activity and shape
Concentration is not the only indicator of sperm quality. Spontaneous activity -- also known as motility -- and the shape of the spermatozoa are also important factors. Further research will need to establish whether these two quality characteristics can be measured in a similar manner, so that a compact device can be developed in which a chip can be inserted for single use. The user will only be able to see that the test has been completed successfully; the gynaecologist will inform him of the actual results personally.
Loes Segerink developed the 'fertility chip' in Prof. Albert van den Berg's BIOS Lab-on-a-Chip research group. This group is part of the University of Twente's MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology. The research is financed by Technology Foundation STW.
The publication 'On-chip determination of spermatozoa concentration using electrical impedance measurements' by Loes Segerink, Ad Sprenkels, Paul ter Braak, Istvan Vermes and Albert van den Berg, has been published online in the form of an Advance Publication, and will appear in the scientific journal Lab on a Chip in the near future.
Friday, January 15, 2010
New Study: Innovative Technique Allows Male Cancer Survivors Sterile From Treatment To Father Children
The study's lead author, Paul Turek, MD, former professor and endowed chair at the University of California San Francisco and founder of The Turek Clinic, pioneered the technique, called FNA Sperm Mapping, that is able to discover pockets of viable sperm in the testes. The sperm can then be extracted with minimally invasive procedures and used for in vitro fertilization and single sperm injection.
"This advance in medicine has been a long time in the making, but we have reached a point where a critical mass of physicians believe in and are using sperm mapping as a state-of-the-art tool to help couples conceive," said Dr. Turek, a men's reproductive health expert. "Sperm mapping offers men who are 'sterile' new hope for fatherhood." The study, "Paternity after directed collection of testicular sperm for in vitro fertilization after BMT for hematological malignancies," documented two novel cases of men who had received high does of chemotherapy and bone marrow transplantation. The men had previously been diagnosed and treated for hemotologic cancers (chronic myelogenous leukemia and Hodgkin's disease) and later, as survivors, desired to father children.
The men were initially found to have no sperm in their ejaculate, a condition known as azoospermia, a finding that occurs more than 70 percent of cancer survivors after bone marrow transplantation. After undergoing the testis sperm mapping technique, small pockets of sperm were discovered. With assisted reproduction using these sperm, both successfully fathered healthy children. In previously published research, investigators reported a 65 percent success rate in finding sperm in the testis of patients with azoospermia after chemotherapy for both benign and malignant disease.
However, the cases currently reported involve men who received much higher doses of chemotherapy that are typically associated with bone marrow transplants. And despite the use of assisted reproduction in chemotherapy-exposed sperm, no increase in birth defect rates have been noted. Dr. Turek notes, however, that for men who need radiation and chemotherapy for cancer treatment, sperm banking prior to the therapy remains the single best way to preserve their reproductive potential.
"Patients undergoing cancer treatments need to be informed of the good news on the other side," Dr. Turek states. "There are sophisticated and effective ways to help men become fathers after the storm of cancer treatment has passed." About Sperm Mapping Testis sperm mapping, also known as FNA Mapping, was pioneered by Dr. Turek 13 years ago. The procedure is a breakthrough, minimally invasive reproductive treatment for men found to be sterile from genetic or other causes of infertility.
Sperm mapping involves the use of fine needle aspiration (FNA) to take small tissue samples nonsurgically from 15 designated - or mapped - areas of each testicle under local anesthesia in 30 minutes.
Source:The Turek Clinic
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
A study on 298 infertile patients over a period of five years has revealed that ‘Microsurgery’ is the best procedure to treat male infertility in patients, who are afflicted by ‘Varicocele’, which is the main cause for infertility in 40 percent of the patients.
A paper on comparative study of Open, Laparoscopic and Microsurgical approaches to treat male infertility conducted by doctors and specialist at Urology department was selected as the Best Article for 2008, as part of the of Best Publication Award event at Medical Research Centre, HMC.
With world-wide statistics revealing 10 to15 percent of male population suffering from infertility of some sorts, the Urology department at HMC has pioneered the use of microsurgical varicocelectomy to treat male infertility, which has led to increased pregnancy rate in infertile couples.
“The microsurgery procedure is a day surgery not requiring hospitalisation and has several advantages over open technique and laparoscopy. There is no hydrocele formation, a lower incidence of recurrent varicocele, and better improvement in sperm count and motility,” said Dr Abdulla Al Ansari, Consultant Urologist, who has contributed immensely to the comparative study conducted at HMC to treat male infertility.
The successful mastering of microsurgical procedure to treat male infertility at HMC has led to an increased demand by patients from GCC countries such as KSA, UAE, Oman etc, for HMC services.
“HMC infertility clinic is now benchmarked against some of the most advanced medical facilities world-wide. We at the Urology department have now disease specific sub-specialties to deal with patients and cases”, stated Dr Sami S Al Said, Consultant Urologist and Andrologist, HMC while receiving the award.
The study conducted by Urology department on male infertility has been published in one of the most reputed international journals, claimed Dr Al Hareth M Al Khater, Chairman, Medical Research Centre, HMC.
“The Medical Research Centre at HMC was established in 1998. In 2009, we have received almost 200 proposals for research and 100 have been approved by our scientific and ethics committees. 40 research papers submitted by HMC doctors have already been published or accepted for publication this year in various international journals. Some of the medical research proposals are also funded by Qatar National Research Fund under the aegis of Qatar Foundation,” Dr. Al Hareth said.