Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation Research Could Lead to Better Fertility Tests, Treatment

Article excerpt

Roberto Pezza's research on basic science could soon lead to improved diagnoses for people with fertility problems. He and Mike Dresser, a colleague at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, published a study in the March issue of PLOS Genetics that identifies how a specific protein acts in the cell division that occurs during reproduction.

Using mice as models, Pezza and Dresser identified a protein called HFM1/Mer3, which plays a crucial role in how chromosomes recombine before cells divide. When chromosomes from each parent don't recombine properly, cells divide with the incorrect number of chromosomes, which often results in birth defects. The protein was previously discovered in yeast, but Pezza said this is the first time that the protein has been identified in mammals.

"We want to know the link that allows chromosome division," Pezza said.

By identifying the protein, scientists can understand when bad cells don't divide properly. In addition to finding a trigger for birth defects, scientists can also use this process to understand how DNA repairs itself in cancerous or tumorous cells, Pezza said.

Basic science like Pezza and Dresser's is the foundation for research that often turns into medicine and technological advancement. …