Scientists have discovered a single mutated gene in male mice that can inhibit the last stages of sperm development, which leads to infertility. As a result, scientists are much closer to a hormone free reversible and surgery free male contraception.
Researchers from Boffins in Edinburgh, Scotland discovered the gene by inducing random mutations in the genetic code of a group of mice. It then singled out those who became infertile. Their research is published in PLoS Genetics. The discovery led them to the Katnall gene, which controls the production of proteins necessary for maintaining structural integrity of sperm cells.
Because the Katnall gene comes very late in the sperm production process, this means that it can be altered without affecting the production of genetic material of the sperm. Which means that any treatment targeting this gene would have a higher chance of being reversible.
But of course, this doesn't mean we'll be seeing a male birth control pill any time soon on the pharmacy shelves. Researchers are hopeful that this is a step in the right direction. For now, its best to stick to the normal contraceptive methods. [PLoS Genetics via BBC]