New sperm test may pinpoint best fertility treatment

13 July 2015

A collaborative team of researchers have developed the first diagnostic test for sperm RNA based on next-generation sequencing.

Published this week in Science Translational Medicine, "Absence of sperm RNA elements correlates with idiopathic male infertility" shows how male factors could be the cause of infertility in couples even when tested semen parameters are normal. 

By using next-generation sequencing to analyse spermatozoal ribonucleic acids (RNAs), the team were able to see how the paternal contribution. This finding could help couples struggling to conceive find the most effective method.

Around 13 per cent of couples experience problems becoming pregnant but it is only usually females who are extensively observed. The role of men in conceiving is less thoroughly observed, with most only looking at reproductive history, family history and semen analysis, despite the American Society for Reproductive Medicine estimating that male and female factors contribute about equally to infertility.

The technique could become part of a routine examination as "we move toward personalized and precision medicine," Dr Stephen Krawetz, lead author of the study, said. 

Although the test is in its initial stages, it could have a massive potential for patients and the healthcare system.

Posted by Edward Bartel

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