New technique overcomes genetic cause of infertility

February 23, 20181 comment

Usually, girls have two X chromosomes (XX) and boys have one X and one Y (XY), but approximately 1 in 500 boys are born with an extra X or Y. Having three rather than two sex chromosomes can disrupt formation of mature sperm and cause infertility. In a new study published in Science, a healthy offspring was created from male mice with an extra X or Y chromosome.

The success of this preliminary experiment offers hope to genetically infertile men, ie those with three sex chromosomes. A successful treatment, however, requires further research as it is not yet possible to make mature sperm outside the body. Researchers had to inject cells with the potential to become sperm back into the mice’s testes to help them finish developing. It was found that this caused tumours in some mice so reducing the risk of tomour formation or creating sperm in a test tube would need to be overcome prior to this approach being considered for human patients.

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