A gene responsible for male infertility was discovered in a study made in the Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology in China. If the embryos are separated from this gene, male infertility may be prevented. This discovery contributes to the prevention of other genetic diseases.
In a study made by the researchers of the Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology in Shanghai, scientists have discovered that mutations in human Piwi gene can prevent the development of sperm, which can lead to infertility.
Researchers say there are more than 50 million infertile couples in China. About 1 percent of all Chinese males, and about 10-20 percent of infertile males are said to have the presence of azospermine, which in some cases indicates that Piwi gene mutations are the cause.
This research started in 2011. The researchers examined 413 men’s DNA from azoospermia patients who had no identifiable cause and found three patients with mutant Piwi genes.
Proteins encoded by the Piwi gene are known to be necessary for sperm and egg production in animals such as mice and fish. Mutations in the Piwi gene do not affect the fertility of women. However, the probability of transferring this mutation to the children of mutated women is 50 percent. This potentially causes infertility in the male children of these women.
Throughout the research, scientists have developed a possible treatment for infertility. A combination of certain peptide-amino acids can save sperm from human Piwi mutations. This peptide has been shown to motivate sperm after it has been given to mutated mice. However, this treatment is not yet applicable to people. Scientists say it will take some time to get into clinical practice. Nevertheless, it will be effective in terms of genetic studies and early treatment of male infertility.