A breakthrough in male infertility?

Scientists at Newcastle University in the UK report that they have solved the importance of a gene in regulating the production of fully functioning sperm.

For the first time, they say, they have identified the role of a gene, RBMXL2, which is very similar to a possible infertility gene found on the Y chromosome found only in men. The study, published in eLife, sheds light on why some men may be infertile as RBMXL2 has been shown to be essential to make sperm.

Scientists found that deleting the RBMXL2 gene from chromosome 11 blocked sperm production. This paves the way for further exciting research in this area, said Professor David Elliott, at the Institute of Genetic Medicine, Newcastle University, who led the 10-year international study that involved experts from America, Edinburgh and mainland Europe.

“Male infertility is a poorly understood topic, and this study helps us to understand why some men might become infertile,” Elliott said. The study was conducted on mice, but the gene is found in all mammals, he said. “We predict that similar problems found in mice will occur in infertile men, but we need to test this in future research.”

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