Texas Researchers Find Potential Infertility Cure For Male Cancer Patients

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Rare stem cells used to produce new sperm were discovered recently and may be able to cure infertility in cancer patients, according to scientists.

The Research

The stem cells found in testes produce a biomarker protein called PAX7, which help produce new sperm cells in mice.

"We have long known that male fertility is driven by rare stem cells within the testes, but the precise identity of these stem cells has been disputed,” Diego H. Castrillon, of the study authors, said. “Our findings suggest that these rare PAX7 cells are the key cells within the testes that are ultimately responsible for male fertility."

This new information could be especially useful in the U.S., where infertility affects about 4.7 million men and is often a side effect of radiation or chemotherapy.

In the study, researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (the only National cancer Institute-designated cancer center in North Texas) found that the PAX7 stem cells were able to survive treatment with toxic drugs and radiation. After exposure to chemotherapy and radiation, the cells continued to divide.

"Remarkably, murine PAX7 spermatogonia proved resistant to both radiotherapy and chemotherapy,” Castrillon said. “They not only survived the immediate aftermath of these genotoxic insults, but also rapidly expanded, forming clusters of PAX7 spermatogonia never observed in normal, untreated mice.”

These researchers, who published their findings in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, believe that replication of their study in human men could restore or protect fertility of those undergoing cancer treatment.

The work was sponsored by the David M. Crowley Foundation, the National Cancer Institute and the State of Texas Norman Hackerman Advanced Research Program.

Source: Health News Digest


 
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