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UC San Diego Research Reveals Potential New Area Of Exploration For Female Infertility

A sign for UC San Diego is shown in this undated photo.

Photo by Milan Kovacevic

Above: A sign for UC San Diego is shown in this undated photo.

UC San Diego researchers have found what could be one clue to the mystery of female infertility.

It involves a protein called ZPF36L2, or L2, for short. Researchers discovered that the protein plays a crucial role in egg development.

Researchers worked with female mice engineered to lack L2 in their eggs.

They then set up an equal number of fertile male mice with the engineered mice and with normal females.

After six months, the normal mice reproduced some 60 offspring. But the mice lacking the L2 protein did not have a single pup.

Photo credit: Kenny Goldberg

Dr. Heidi Cook-Andersen is shown in her UC San Diego laboratory, Feb. 2, 2018.

Senior author Dr. Heidi Cook-Andersen, assistant professor of reproductive medicine and biological sciences at UC San Diego, said because human eggs also have the L2 protein, her findings offer some food for thought.

“Perhaps deficiencies or mutations in L2 could play a role in what’s currently some unexplained causes of female infertility in humans," she said.

Experts are unable to pinpoint the cause of the problem in about 15 percent of couples who struggle with infertility.

Cook-Andersen's research is published in the peer-reviewed journal Developmental Cell.

Researchers at UC San Diego have discovered what could be a new avenue to explore for answers to female infertility

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