Male fertility problems generally stem from their sperm being unable to activate the female’s egg. Even though the sperm fuses with the egg, nothing happens and conceiving a child doesn’t occur. And even during ICSI, when the sperm has been injected into the egg, a good embryo does not develop. This is one reason why sometimes eggs do not fertilise.
A study performed by scientists at Cardiff University in Wales, has demonstrated that one form of male infertility could be caused by the male sperm lacking a specific protein. Their results have been published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, and could lead to the eventual treatment of this form of male infertility.
The protein known as PLC-zeta is required to activate the female’s egg when it combines with the sperm. By injecting the egg with the protein that is missing, it can launch the embryo development, leading to a dramatic increase in the chances of a pregnancy. Scientists at the University are looking to produce the missing protein and use it to stimulate egg activation, which could offer couples who are undergoing IVF and ICSI greater pregnancy rates.
It could be some time before the protein is fully developed and used in clinical treatments for patients with poor sperm but it could ultimately improve the treatment of male infertility, and the chances of having a baby.