The study, led by a team from Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital identifies two
proteins in semen that can be used as biological markers to predict the
likelihood of finding sperm though surgical investigation. Currently, testicular biopsy is the only
diagnostic method to determine the specific cause of the infertility.
refers to the failure of sperm to develop properly. In this case retrieving
sperm for use in IVF is very difficult, and often impossible. But when the cause is
obstruction in a man’s reproductive system, sperm retrieval is much easier.
He added: 'You
can avoid biopsies in many of the men. And I think for a lot of the men, they
just want to know what their options are earlier on'.
The pair of proteins - ECM1
and TEX101 — were selected from 2,000 candidate biomarkers. Their
predictive value was tested first in 30 patients, then on an additional 119. The
researchers were able to distinguish obstructive from non-obstructive infertility
every time, although the test could not be considered 100 percent accurate.
Study lead author Dr Andrei Drabovich told The Canadian Press that the team
was working to draw on samples from other clinics to confirm the findings.
an accurate biochemical test which might help doctors advise men whether taking
a piece of the testicle is worth doing or not, would be very useful', he said.
'It could help men make better decisions, avoid unnecessary surgical
procedures and potentially help save money by not having to do surgical
procedures that aren't needed'.
Work is now underway to adapt
the test for use in fertility clinics. 'Optimistically, it would be a year away, pessimistically, two years - we're moving along really quickly', Dr Jarvi
told the BBC.