UTSA study describes drug that could prevent infertility in cancer patients
(Feb. 13, 2017) -- A new study led by Brian Hermann, assistant professor of biology at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), shows promising evidence that a medication previously used to prevent infections in cancer patients can also keep them from becoming infertile. Losing fertility is a frequent problem among cancer patients, as treatments for the disease often halt sperm production.
Hermann and his research team have been pursuing a number of cutting-edge research initiatives to restore fertility in men who have lost their ability to have children as a result of cancer treatments they received as children. While working on methods to restart sperm production, the researchers discovered a link between a drug for recovering cancer patients and the absence of normal damage to reproductive ability.
The drug is called G-CSF or granulocyte colony-stimulating factor. It stimulates the bone marrow to produce neutrophils, which are white blood cells that are needed to fight infections. They're commonly lost after chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
"We were using G-CSF to prevent infections in our research experiments," Hermann said. "It turned out that the drug also had the unexpected impact of guarding against male infertility."
Because cancer treatments like radiation and chemotherapy often kill sperm stem cells, male reproduction becomes essentially impossible. In Hermann's laboratory, G-CSF, by promoting cell growth, unexpectedly began creating new sperm stem cells to replace the dead ones.
A study authored by Hermann and his students was recently published in Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology. Hermann's laboratory focuses almost exclusively on regenerating dead testicular tissue through the use of stem cells, making the project an exciting but unexpected detour that he hopes to continue, if possible.
The next step would be observing whether the drug, which is already in wide use by cancer patients, has any correlation with restored fertility among humans. Until then, Hermann is focusing on better understanding the stem cells that make reproduction possible, so he can find more effective solutions to treating male infertility.
"Male infertility is an intuitive disease and we need creative solutions," he said. "But we need to understand how things work before we can fix them."
UTSA is ranked among the top 400 universities in the world and among the top 100 in the nation, according to Times Higher Education.
Learn more about the UTSA Department of Biology.
Learn more about UTSA's College of Business master's programs. These hands-on sessions allow students to review application procedures, learn admissions requirements and ask questions about the college master's programs.Business Building (BB 4.02.10), Main Campus
Orientation marks a major step toward becoming a Roadrunner. It is a unique experience designed to welcome freshmen and transfers to UTSA and ensure a successful transition into college. They will learn about UTSA, prepare for their first semester and have fun meeting other students. There is also a special Family Orientation program too.Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
The three-day event showcases the Lone Star State's diversity adn rich heritage through a wide variety of ethnic food, music, dance, arts and crafts.UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, Hemisfair Campus
Learn more about UTSA's Master of Arts degree in Education and five program areas at this free informational session.Main Building (MB 0.410), Main Campus
The 3rd annual event showcases the latest research discoveries of trainees, faculty, staff and students from health-related disciplines. Register in advance for this free event.H-E-B University Center Ballroom (HUC 1.106), Main Campus
The inaugural Roadrunner Weekend begins with a golf scramble on Friday and a Gala and After Party Saturday night. The event connects UTSA alumni and supports scholarships.Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa, 9800 Hyatt Resort Dr., San Antonio
The Academy is targeted at providing instructional tools to create a social studies curriculum with Chicano/Mexican American content.Institute of Texan Cultures, Hemisfair Campus
The sympoisum will focus on the interface between aging and neurodegenerative diseases, will educate the wider research community about advancements in this fast-paced field and stimulate collaborative research in this area. Register online for this free event.H-E-B University Center Ballroom (HUC 1.106), Main Campus