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Male Infertility: Does New Sperm Mapping Promise a Cure?

Posted Jul 20 2012 12:00am

For the first time ever scientists have a real shot at curing male infertility . Researchers at Stanford University just announced that for the first time ever they have successfully mapped the entire genome of the male sperm.

Right now the cause of male infertility issues such as low semen volume , low sperm count, or abnormal sperm is largely unknown by doctors. Environmental exposures, lifestyle behaviors, and genetics have all been cited as potential sources of declining fertility, however the biological basis of male infertility remains largely unknown.
In the study, published in the journal Cell, researchers were able to not only break down the entire genome of the sperm, but they were also able to gain insight into how exactly the DNA of the mother and the father come together to create the genes of a child.
“Once we get our understanding of these [DNA processes that were discovered in the study], we can map them and see how they change as a man ages,” said study co-author Barry Behr, professor of obstetrics and gynecology and director of Stanford’s in vitro fertilization laboratory, to “We could map these in healthy versus unhealthy people. We could map these in fertile and infertile people, and really get a better understanding as to what the fundamental makeup of a good sperm versus a bad sperm is.”

Behr went on to explain that the genetic mutations and patterns that were found while mapping the sperm provided valuable insight to how male infertility occurs, however each sperm was destroyed in the process so there was no way to know whether or not those particular sperm could fertilize an egg. 
This groundbreaking study provides the scientific community with extremely valuable information which will greatly improve our knowledge of the male reproductive system, which right now is several decades behind the current research progress for female fertility.
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