MONTREAL, July 18 (UPI) -- New contraception methods and infertility treatments may result from the isolation of a key gene to ovulation, researchers from Canada and Europe said.
Researchers at the University of Montreal discovered how a gene, known as Lrh1, plays an essential role in regulating ovulation and possibly fertilization, Canwest News Service reported Friday.
"This discovery means we can envision new contraceptives that selectively stop ovulation," said Bruce D. Murphy, director of the university's animal research center at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.
In their study, scientists "blocked" the gene from cells in the ovaries of genetically modified mice, he said. By removing the gene, they learned hormones were disrupted, preventing eggs from maturing and effectively stopping ovulation.
"If we can target the gene directly, it could be possible to create a contraceptive that would be more effective and produce less side effects than current steroid-based forms of birth control," Murphy said.
The 2 1/2-year study was conducted as a collaborative effort between the University of Montreal and the Louis Pasteur University in Strasbourg, France. The findings were published in the latest edition of Genes and Development.