Infertility gene discovery may lead to male contraceptive

Scottish scientists have discovered a gene that plays a key role in production of healthy sperm, a breakthrough they say could soon pave the way for developing a new contraceptive pill for men.

In experiments on mice, researchers at the Centre for Reproductive Health at the University of Edinburgh found a gene, called Katnal1, which was vital for the final stages of sperm production.

Detailing their findings in the journal PLos Genetics, the researchers said a drug which interrupts Katnal1 could be a reversible contraceptive.

Contraception in men is largely down to condoms or a vasectomy, but experts said there was ‘certainly a need’ for such a drug.

The researchers were actually investigating the causes of male infertility, for which they randomly altered the genetic code of mice to see which became infertile.