Aus researchers discover protein to protect fertility

Updated: Sep 24, 2012, 19:15 PM IST

Melbourne: Australian researchers claimed to have made a discovery which they say can offer hope to women whose fertility might be affected due to cancer therapy or premature menopause.

The scientists said that they found that two proteins which make egg cells die in the ovaries when their DNA is damaged by radiation or chemotherapy, could make women infertile, ABC news channel reported.

Clare Scott of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute said egg cells that were missing the PUMA protein survived the radiation and repaired their DNA.

"What we found was that if you have an egg cell that doesn`t have this PUMA protein, it can actually survive DNA damage by repairing its DNA," she said.

"This had not been known before. We didn`t know if these very specialised egg cells were capable of repairing DNA and going on to produce normal offspring," she said, adding the finding might lead to new strategies to protect fertility, by blocking the proteins.

"In the mice that we worked with, we found that if PUMA was missing, then normal offspring could result," she said.

"That has great excitement for our understanding of how to come up with a new treatment to prevent infertility," she added.