A brief report in the journal Genes & Development is generating a fair bit of media attention because it describes how a specific gene, NR5A2 (sometimes referred to as Lrh1), may play an important role in female fertility. The buzz today is on whether targeting this gene with drugs might serve as an effective contraceptive or aid in understanding infertility. Researchers found that when the gene was turned off in the ovaries (but not in other areas of the body), ovulation no longer occurred and sterility was induced.
However, it’s a little to soon to know what the results mean for human women – the experiments were conducted in mice. The team plans to study ovarian cells collected from fertility clinics to study whether different or “defective” (their word, not mine) versions of the gene are present. A piece in the sums up the findings, noting that it “could potentially be blocked to prevent conception and boosted to enhance fertility.”
Other researchers are studying this gene to determine whether it might play a role in the development of breast cancer.
In mostly unrelated news, has penned a critique to the proposed HHS rule Christine mentioned in her Double Dose. The rule could allow some contraceptives to be defined as abortion and would potentially limit access to family planning services, especially for low-income individuals.