Male infertility affects one in 20 Australian males and one-third of all infertile couples worldwide. The most common cause of male infertility is not a failure to produce sperm, but the sperm's inability to fertilise an egg. What causes this inability is unclear.
Dr Mark Baker from the Faculty of Science and Information Technology and his team will identify the pathways responsible for the defective sperm function in infertile patients. Their research will focus on sperm that fails to recognise an egg and therefore cannot fertilise it.
By comparing normal sperm with abnormal sperm under the same conditions, researchers will identify whether the abnormal sperm has one of four differences: more of a certain protein, less of the protein, none of the protein, or a completely new protein not seen in normal sperm.
This research project is being funded by a grant of $270,000 from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). Dr Baker will use the new Mass Spectrometry Facility that will arrive at the University of Newcastle next year, funded by a $495,000 grant from the Australian Research Councils (ARC) Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) Projects Scheme, the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) and the University.
This project is one of seven being undertaken in the Priority Research Centre for Reproductive Sciences with financial support from the NHMRC. The PRC received more than $3.5 million from the NHMRC in the most recent round of funding.
The University of Newcastle is internationally recognised for its contribution to studies of human pregnancy. Under the leadership of Laureate Professor John Aitken, a world-leader in male infertility, the PRC is addressing one of the Australian Government's most important national research priorities, 'A Healthy Start to Life'.
Health and medical research at the University is conducted in collaboration with HMRI. HMRI is a partnership between the University, Hunter New England Health and the community.