What’s New in Genetics and Fertility?

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Interesting and exciting work in the news this week!

Marijuana Receptors and Fertility

A new study shows evidence that CB2, the cannabinoid receptor, plays a role in regulating spermatogenesis. Mice treated with a chemical agent that activates the cannabinoid receptor showed both greater and accelerated sperm production compared to the control group. The researchers believe this finding could guide further work to aid men struggling with infertility and suggests that marijuana may affect male fertility by disrupting the CB2 receptor.

Of Worms and Men

Professor L’Hernault of Emory University identified common link in egg fertilization in both humans and worms. Fertilization is largely dependent on the Izumo protein in mammals and the SPE-45 protein in worms, both of which allow the egg to recognize the sperm. L’Hernault’s work revealed that a part of each protein responsible for allowing the sperm to stick to the egg is appears in both mice and worms. Further research is aimed at gaining insight into the mechanisms of fertility across species.

More Genetic Testing, Not Enough Genetic Counselors

Although the utility of a number of genetic tests has been scrutinized, genetic testing is the foundation of personalized medicine. But despite the expansion of genetic testing for conditions like breast cancer and cystic fibrosis, the number of genetic counselors still lags behind. Read more about the role of genetic counselors, here.

Reworking CRISPR

CRISPR has been in the news quite a lot lately, and research by scientists at Harvard is reinventing the gene editing tool. A paper published in Nature describes their development of  a base editing technology to correct point mutations associated with late-onset Alzheimer’s disease and breast cancer. Their new system adds another protein to CRISPR-Cas9, known as APOBEC1, which is capable of making single base changes. This may sound simple enough, but the scientists faced significant challenges in increasing the system’s efficiency in mammalian cells.

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About Author

Stephany Foster

Stephany Foster is the Associate Scientific Writer at Recombine, a genetic testing company based in New York City. She writes on topics spanning fertility, reproductive medicine, and recent advances in genomics. Stephany also writes about recently published research that Recombine presents at conferences and meetings around the globe. Before joining Recombine, Stephany interned at the George Church Lab at Harvard Medical School. She graduated from Brown University with an A.B. in Biology in 2014.