Advertisement
Icon WebMD Expert Blogs

WebMD's editorial staff on the latest news from the world of health.

Important:

The opinions expressed in WebMD User-generated content areas like communities, review, ratings, or blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have... Expand

The opinions expressed in WebMD User-generated content areas like communities, reviews, ratings, or blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. User-generated content areas are not reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. Some of these opinions may contain information about treatments or uses of drug products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment.

Do not consider WebMD User-generated content as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. WebMD understands that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.

Hide

Friday, April 3, 2009

Male Contraceptive: Gene Clue?

Michael Hildebrand, PhD, of the University of Iowa’s department of otolaryngology, spoke with WebMD about the CATSPER1 gene mutations linked to male infertility – and the possibility of a male contraceptive based on the CATSPER1 gene. Here are excerpts from his comments to WebMD.

If we were to develop any therapy for people with infertility or if we were to consider male contraceptives, in either of those cases, we would still need to do studies in animal models to make sure the approach is both safe and effective — and only then could we test it in humans.

It would probably take at least a couple of years to complete the animal studies, and then it would be additional years beyond that for clinical trials.

Our laboratory focuses on genetic disease — typically hearing loss, but we also study families with other problems as well.

In this particular case, we identified two families in which multiple male individuals had infertility problems, and so we took those two families and we identified the gene that was underlying their infertility.

This was a sperm-specific gene; it’s a calcium channel that’s really essential for the normal movement of the sperm. We also had the advantage of previous studies that have been published which had shown that mice deficient for this particular protein had infertility.

One key [next] step is to investigate additional families to see if they have similar mutations affecting the same gene. We potentially could screen the other three genes [related to CATSPER1] in additional families, as well.

Also, there’s been some preliminary work done looking at using antibodies as a potential contraceptive device in males, and there’s been one study with specifically this CATSPER1 protein and have shown, in the laboratory, that both human and mice sperm treated with this particular antibody… [are] associated with reduced fertility — those sperm are not as able to fertilize an egg, at least not in a laboratory.

One problem with infertility is it’s often difficult to determine the cause — whether it’s related to the male or the female member of the couple, and what the underlying cause is. So there [are] potentially other genes which haven’t been identified.

There are other situations where the deletion of multiple genes is associated with infertility as well as other clinical presentations, but there [are] only a few which are just associated with infertility and are presumably due to proteins which are specifically expressed in the sperm.

Read the WebMD news story about the CATSPER1 gene study.

Posted by: WebMD Blogs at 3:09 pm

Comments

Leave a comment

Subscribe & Stay Informed

WebMD Daily

Get your daily dose of healthy living, diet, exercise and health news from WebMD!

Archives

WebMD Health News