According to a recent report from Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News, new fertility testing methods are being developed to test the RNA of sperm. This could mean great strides in the field of infertility, and help for those who are experiencing it.
Until now, there have been fewer developments in male infertility than female infertility. The main factors examined when determining infertile sperm are usually concentration, motility, and morphology. But now, researchers are reaching into the very makeup of the sperm to determine the molecular causes of infertility.
The authors of the study presented their findings in an article entitled, “Absence of sperm RNA elements correlates with idiopathic male infertility.” In it, they stated:
“We assessed spermatozoal RNAs from 96 couples presenting with idiopathic infertility and identified the final reproductive outcome and sperm RNA elements (SREs) reflective of fecundity status,” they wrote. “The absence of required SREs reduced the probability of achieving live birth by timed intercourse or intrauterine insemination from 73 to 27%.”
They added, “Upon validation, [next-generation sequencing of sperm RNA] may help to identify those couples who may benefit from assisted reproductive technologies and those couples who may be successful with minimal intervention. It is our goal to use this technology to reduce both the time to live birth of a healthy child and the cost when couples seek infertility treatment, so as to reduce the stress on the couple.”
This could be big news for the one in eight (12% of) couples who have difficulty achieving or carrying a pregnancy. Typically, a third of infertility issues originate with the woman, a third with the man, and third are attributed to outside factors. Being able to access and analyze the sperm’s RNA can greatly improve our understanding of what steps can be taken to help reduce male infertility.