Defective gene may cause male infertility

The China Post staff

Doctors at Tainan’s National Cheng Kung University Hospital (NCKUH) yesterday announced that a defective gene long known to cause infertility among western men could also be the cause of infertility in men of Asian descent. According to Dr. Lin Yung-ming, a NCKUH physician, even though scientists still have no answer for the 25 to 40 percent of men diagnosed as infertile, they do know that genetics is the cause in 10 percent of the cases.

Lin pointed out that many scientists in the West have known that a defect on a gene known as AZFa is responsible for male infertility among western men. However, even with the impressive findings, none of the current research results could make the same claim for infertile Asian men, Lin said. Determined to prove that sterile men of Asian descent could be affected by the defective gene, the NCKUH physician said that he has devoted the past five years to try to find the defective gene among some 200 local men he treated for infertility. Lin said even though genetic-related infertility among Taiwan men is often caused by a defective gene called AZFc on the male X chromosome, he did manage to find the flawed AZFa gene on at least a couple of local men with problems conceiving. The finding of the defective AZFa gene on two men, Lin added, was the reason why both men have been “shooting blanks,” a condition medically known as azoospermia. Meanwhile, Lin said despite modern medicine’s light-year advancements in infertility research, about one third of the 200-plus men that participated his study actually gave a “vote of no confidence” in medical techniques used to treat couples with trouble conceiving their own children. According to the NCKUH infertility specialist, when diagnosed with infertility, many local men would immediately turn to traditional Chinese herbal medicine in hopes of a “cure” that could make them father their own children with their mates.