Study of fruit fly cells may have relevance for human infertility NUIG research – The Irish Times

Researchers studying stem cells in fruit flies have discovered an unexpected link between a specific protein and infertility, which could have relevance for humans.

Academics in NUI Galway said the results of recent research could prove important in the understanding of human fertility, and possibly improve infertility treatments down the line.

The study, published in recent days in the international journal PLOS Genetics, examined how stem cells divide in the ovary of the fruit fly.

The research found when a certain protein was removed from stem cells in the ovary, the production of eggs was interrupted.

The findings could have wider relevance, given similarities between stem cells found in fruit flies and humans, such as their ability to repair and replace old or damaged cells.

The gene linked to the protein studied in the new research also exists in humans. The findings of the study suggest that restoring this gene in defective stem cells could possibly improve fertility.

Dr Elaine Dunleavy, lead author of the study, said the results had been unexpected, given the protein the researchers had looked at already had a number of known roles. The normal role of this protein is known, so this would be a new function, she said.

The long-term goal of the NUIG Centre for Chromosome Biology would be to see if the findings carried over to humans, she said. It could have an impact on fertility Infertility in general is increasingly a worldwide problem, she said.

Our work in fruit flies allows us to manipulate genes to understand their function in stem cells in the ovary that would not be possible to carry out in humans. Through this approach we hope to uncover genes that might be important for human fertility, she said.

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Study of fruit fly cells may have relevance for human infertility NUIG research - The Irish Times

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