Researchers at the USA's University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) have identified a drug that could prevent male cancer patients from becoming infertile.
Loss of fertility is a common problem among cancer patients since treatments can halt the production of sperm.
A team of researchers at the University of Texas at San Antonio, working in the field for several years, discovered the action of a drug capable of restarting sperm production in men, notably those who had cancer in childhood.
The drug, called G-CSF (granulocyte-colony-stimulating factor), stimulates bone marrow to produce neutrophils, a type of white blood cell needed to fight infections. These are usually lost after chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments.
According to the study, G-CSF, by promoting cell growth, started regenerating sperm production by creating new sperm cells to replace dead ones.
"We were using G-CSF to prevent infections in our research experiments," said Brian Hermann, who led the study. "It turned out that the drug also had the unexpected impact of guarding against male infertility."
Hermann's lab was previously working on using stem cells to regenerate testicular tissue to restore fertility.
The team's next step would be to trial the drug, already prescribed by oncologists, to investigate a possible correlation with improved fertility in cancer patients.
"Male infertility is an intuitive disease and we need creative solutions. But we need to understand how things work before we can fix them," concludes Hermann.
The study is available here: https://rbej.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12958-016-0226-1