Following a recent study conducted in the United States, there is new hope for a cure to male infertility
Following the publication of her report, Dr Melissa Miller, the director of the project implemented by the University of California in the United States, explained that “fertilisation is like a team sport, in which the first player crosses the line of defence -in this case the egg’s cellular protective layer- while a second player takes advantage of the gap in the defence to get inside the egg.”
The study was based on the observation of the fertilisation process with the female egg. The doctor’s findings open up questions about the already known fact that the quickest and most powerful sperm is most likely to fertilise the egg.
To pinpoint the exact workings of the fertilisation process, a technique has been used for the last five years, enabling researchers to install a tiny electrode in the tail of sperm to monitor the reactions of different types of substances. Firstly, it has been confirmed that the substance involved in activating the sperm is progesterone, a female hormone responsible for preparing the endometrium to facilitate the implantation of the embryo. It has also been confirmed that the male gamete loses its tail in response to a signal that goes through a calcium channel. Lastly, it was detected that the ABHD2 enzyme present in sperm acts as a receiver of this information in the process.
This mechanism could be considered as a type of fertilisation switch and the data obtained could help create an effective, anti-contraceptive pill adapted for men and women. However, it would also be useful for creating new method of boosting fertility, as it enables those sperm whose receptors don’t work to be reactivated.
Currently, doctors are unable to determine why a high percentage of male infertility exists. Often infertility stems from the fact that sperm does not have sufficient motility. Perhaps, now, the proposed solutions will have a greater impact.