Infertility affects more than 6 million American couples. In as many as 15% of cases, s say they can’t find the problem. Now researchers at the University of California, Davis have discovered a very common genetic mutation that could be contributing to infertility. It’s surprisingly highly prevalent. Up to 25% of men have this genetic condition where they basically lack a normal gene that encodes for DEFB126. Also called Beta Defensin126. It’s a protein that acts as a protective coating for sperm. Men who lack the protein, are less fertile as their sperm have a harder time making their.
Way to the egg. One of the tools being used to study possible treatments was created here, at UC Davis’ mouse biology program, where scientists have genetically engineered a mouse that lacks the same gene. The mouse is so versatile that we can use it to ask very, very important questions and then hopefully make discoveries that improve human and indeed other animal health. At the same time, researchers are working with s at a nearby fertility center, where al studies are underway.
Both say they’re optimistic that they’re close to solving a vexing problem so many couples face. We’ve had even some recent evidence within the lab, with human sperm, that this protein can be added back to the surface of human sperm, and that could be a treatment. This would give us a more specific, a more accurate way to determine if there’s a problem for them, so giving them answers and allowing them to move on faster thereby shortening that duration of their fertility journey. Kristen Simoes for UC Davis.