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Researchers have developed a new sperm test that may help determine the best treatment for couples with unexplained infertility.

A Wayne State University (WSU) School of Medicine professor, in collaboration with researchers at CReAte Fertility Center, University of Toronto,Harvard University and Georgia Reagents University, has developed the first diagnostic test for sperm RNA based on next-generation sequencing.

For couples with unexplained infertility, the test may help determine the best infertility treatment.

The researchers said that male factors could be the cause of infertility in couples even when tested semen parameters are normal.

The use of next-generation sequencing of spermatozoal ribonucleic acids, or RNAs, can provide an objective measure of the paternal contribution, and may help guide couples to the most effective method in overcoming infertility, researchers said.

While the American Society for Reproductive Medicine estimates that male and female factors contribute about equally to infertility, extensive evaluation of the female partner is traditional before undergoing fertility treatments.

Evaluation of the male partner is not as extensive, and is generally relegated to a review of reproductive history, family history and semen analysis considering parameters that include sperm concentration, motility and morphology.

The semen parameters evaluation may be useful in the diagnosis of obvious cases of male infertility, but no single parameter or set of parameters serve as highly predictive of male fertility.

The new method is “better suited to the task” of analysing the male’s role in infertility, and is a step toward personalised precision reproductive medicine that may help guide the couple to their successful treatment, said Stephen Krawetz, associate director of the CS Mott Center for Human Growth and Development and the Charlotte B Failing Professor of Fetal Therapy and Diagnosis in the WSU Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

The study was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

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