Scientists from the Imperial College London have discovered a ‘fertility switch’ that could help treat infertility and miscarriage in the future.
The study, published in the Nature Medicine journal, discovered an enzyme in the body that determines infertility and the chances of miscarriage, as it acts like a ‘switch’.
The SGK1 protein can determine infertility and the risk of miscarriage simply by how high or low the levels are in the body.
When the female body produces large amounts of SGK1 protein, it increases the chances of infertility but when the levels are low, the chances of miscarriage soar.
The study involved investigating womb lining tissue from 106 women who were struggling to conceive or have had recurrent miscarriages. Researchers found that those who had been trying for a baby for two years or more, had high levels of SGK1 while women who had miscarried, had low levels.
Scientists are hoping these findings could pave the way for new treatments to be designed to reduce infertility and miscarriage rates. It will also be a hopeful finding for those about to embark on in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment.
"I can envisage that in the future, we might treat the womb lining by flushing it with drugs that block SGK1 before women undergo IVF,” says professor Jan Brosens, who led the study.
"In the future, we might take biopsies of the womb lining to identify abnormalities that might give them a higher risk of pregnancy complications, so that we can start treating them before they get pregnant,” Brosens added.