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Scientists design infertility kit for men

JNU scientists have identified a gene that has a role in male fertility.
PTI | By Press Trust of India, Ahmedabad
UPDATED ON JAN 07, 2005 08:02 PM IST

Scientists at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi have identified a gene that has a role in male fertility and developed a kit to diagnose infertility in men.

The same gene also appears to have a role, in causing apoptosis or cell death which may be significant in future for cancer treatment. The team is studying the possibility of using this in controlling cancer, Dr Kasuri Datta from the School of Environmental Sciences said here delivering a lecture at the ongoing Indian Science Congress here last evening.

"Our data suggest that the protein produced by this gene is multifunctional," she said adding "We have patented the infertility kit which will be commercialised,"

The kit is the result of an earlier discovery by the same team of a gene called "HABP1" which produces this protein called "hyaluronan binding protein". "We have now assigned functions to it," she said adding it plays a role in regulating cell cycle and cell motility.

Stating that motility of sperms is critical in fertility, she said low level of this protein in sperms is associated with infertility. Thus, diagnosis of infertility could be done by measuring the levels of this protein in sperms, she said.

Datta said that the team also found that over expression of this protein in animal cells leads to "vacuolation" causing apoptosis (cell death).

Though vacuolation is an usual process in plant cells, in animal cells it implies toxicity and stress leading to cell death, she said adding it may have a role in cancer, a condition in which cells stop dying and continue uncontrolled proliferation.

The anti-cancer drugs make these cells to undergo apoptosis. "Thus our finding suggests that gene which can cause apoptosis is present within the body and this gene may be used in designing a treatment strategy for cancer," she said. The team is now investigating this aspect, she said.

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