Infertility can be a devastating issue to deal with, but a collaborative study involving Abertay University is making big steps forward in our understanding of the issue.
Electrophysiologist Dr Sean Brown was part of the study, which was made possible through a grant from the Medical Research Council.
It aimed to establish how human sperm cell fertilisation ability is affected by alterations in specific membrane proteins called ion channels.
Carried out in collaboration with the University of Dundee, the University of Birmingham and the Assisted Conception Unit at Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, the study investigated if sperm that lacked potassium ion channels could still fertilise.
Dr Brown undertook an analysis of sperm from sub-fertile men at Ninewells Hospital using a technique known as patch clamp electrophysiology, which permits the study of ion channel function in individual cells.
His research examined the correlation between the success of IVF (In vitro fertilisation) and the presence or absence of a potassium channel in sperm cells.
He found that cell populations with an extreme abnormality in the potassium channel have low fertilisation success at IVF.
A paper on the research was published in 2016 in Human Reproduction and it was later cited as being of 'special significance in its field' by industry site F1000 Prime.
To view the paper in full, visit: https://academic.oup.com/humrep/article/31/6/1147/1749676