Men’s health is an important area of research at the Institute. Our scientists seek to understand why some men are infertile and studies focus on the processes by which sperm are formed and how these processes are then controlled. Identification of the causes of male infertility is critical. In approximately 40 percent of men with low sperm counts or poor sperm movement, the underlying causes are unknown, however, in roads are being made. Ground breaking research undertaken by the Institute’s scientists has led to the identification of genes that cause infertility; this important knowledge will ultimately lead to new therapies benefiting men.
In other studies at the Institute our researchers are investigating the control systems that modulate how sperm develop from precursor stem cells in the testis, control systems that nurture and protect the developing sperm and protect them from damage during their transit from the testis. Scientists are exploring the processes by which environmental factors can influence the health of future generations by 'marking' the DNA, genetic code, and influencing the way that code is read. This area of science is called epigenetics and will be critical in determining how genetic information is transmitted to future generations.
Epigenetics and testicular cancer
Other studies at the Institute are exploring how epigenetic factors influence the development of testicular cancer, a tumour that affects young men, usually below the age of 50 years. Such information may enable us to recognise how these tumours form and may lead to preventive strategies. Many men who develop testicular cancer have a history of the failure of the testis to descend from the abdomen shortly before birth. As such, understanding the factors controlling the development of the testis is critical.
Infection and inflammation influences on reproduction
Novel research being conducted by the Institute deals with the effects of infection and inflammation on men’s reproduction. The male reproductive tract is a unique immunological environment that provides protection for the developing sperm, and which has important health consequences.
This research is essential for understanding and treating spontaneous autoimmune infertility, genital tract infections including sexually transmitted diseases, and chronic scrotal or perineal pain in older men, in particular.
Identifying the best methods of communicating health information to men is undertaken by Andrology Australia, which provides an information service to men about their reproductive health. For more information visit Andrology Australia at www.andrologyaustralia.org.
For more information on research being undertaken in men’s health visit: