Shanghai Jiao Tong University\'s School of Medicine has identified one gene involved with sperm development that could lead to new male infertility treatments and new approaches to male contraception.
The discovery was published in the latest version of Genes & Cancer, a United States-based scientific journal. In the experiments, researchers destroyed the Kifl8a gene in male mice, resulting in poor testicles development and sperm loss.
\"It is the first time in the world that we confirmed the relationship between mutated Kifl8a and sperm development through a mammal animal model,\" said Gu Mingmin from the school\'s medical genetics research unit yesterday. \"We identified that Kifl8a plays an important role in sperm development. Its improper function can influence chromosomes and result in cell death.\"
He said the research unit has started to screen infertile men to study the relationship between Kifl8a on infertility in humans. Due to social and environmental causes, men\'s sperm quantity and quality have dropped in recent years. Currently, about 15 percent of couples are infertile and a male factor is supposedly present in about half of these cases.
\"Various causes can result in male infertility, but 50 percent of the reasons are still unknown,\" Gu said. \"The discovery of Kifl8a\'s role gives us a new direction to study and could bring hope for new solutions in infertility diagnosis, treatment and birth control measures.\" He said gene therapy will be developed based on the discovery and help men with Kifl8a disorder.