London: Scientists claim to have found aa genetic change which makes men less fertile than usual, adiscovery they say could lead to new tests to identify thosewho will take longer to father a child. The change was found in a gene, called DEFB126, whichcodes for a protein that clings to sperm, helping them swimthrough the woman`s body to fertilise the egg. Sperm lacking in the substance find it harder to swimto the egg, the researchers reported in the journal ScienceTranslational Medicine.
A study of more than 500 married couples in Chinafound that women who had partners with two copies of thedefective gene (one from the mother and one from the father)were less likely to get pregnant. The women also took longerto get pregnant by a couple of months. Further studies, carried out in people from the US,UK, China, Japan and Africa, found the gene mutation is commonaround the world.According to the researchers, about half of all mencarry one copy of the defective gene; while a quarter have twodefective copies. Commenting on the study, Dr Allan Pacey of theUniversity of Sheffield, said: "We actually understand verylittle about the subtle molecular events which occur in spermas they make their journey through the woman`s body tofertilise an egg. "We know even less about how a man`s genes maycontribute to how his sperm work, in the absence of an obviousdefect that we can see down the microscope. "Therefore, this paper is an important step forwardand makes a significant contribution to our sperm-knowledge."PTI
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