This molecule could raise IVF success rate

Indian researchers design molecule that could raise IVF success rate

mPTX molecule is being suggested as a better agent for assisted reproductive technology compared to existing drugs

Representative Image. Credit: iStock Photo

Researchers from IIT-Hyderabad, Mangalore University and Kasturba Medical College, Manipal have together designed an organic molecule mPTX, claiming it to be a better drug to enhance sperm competence for in vitro fertilisation (IVF).

The researchers said their study has found that mPTX, a pentoxifylline derivative, was able to increase sperm motility, prolong in vitro sperm survival, improve sperm fertilisation potential, without adversely affecting the development of the embryos. This is achieved at a much lower concentration compared to the widely used pharmacological agent, pentoxifylline, in IVF technology.

mPTX molecule is being suggested as a better agent for assisted reproductive technology compared to existing drugs. “Our multi-institutional collaborative team is coming up with a formulation, using the combination of this mPTX and other molecules, that could be more effective than the existing formulation for the IVF procedure,” said Dr Rajakumara Eerappa, associate professor, Department of Biotechnology, IIT-H.

Dr Eerappa’s group from IIT-Hyderabad collaborated with Dr Jagadeesh Prasad Dasappa’s group from the Mangalore University, and Prof Guruprasad Kalthur’s group from the Kasturba Medical College, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, to design the small organic molecule mPTX.

The purpose of the Department of Science and Technology-Science and Engineering Research Board-funded project was to improve the efficacy of pentoxifylline and to reduce its adverse effects on sperm competence and embryo development. The work was recently published in the peer-reviewed journal, Nature Scientific Reports.

With an estimated 48 million infertile couples worldwide, reduction in sperm motility is one of the major causes of male infertility. Motility is essential for sperm to reach the site of fertilisation during natural conception.

The percentage of motile spermatozoa present in ejaculate helps in deciding the ideal artificial insemination method such as IVF for infertility treatment. Pentoxifylline treatment increases sperm motility which goes hand in glove with the undesirable premature acrosomal reaction, which together determines the success of IVF.

“mPTX has shown enhanced human sperm motility and longevity both in ejaculated and testicular spermatozoa characterised by poor motility. It has minimal toxicity on mouse embryos. At the same time, it reduces the premature acrosomal reaction, which is undesirable in IVF. Therefore, mPTX can be a potential drug candidate for aiding viable sperm selection in the patients having immotile or poor motile spermatozoa in the ejaculate or from the testicular biopsy, and for increasing sperm motility before IVF,” the researchers said.

“The work led by Dr Rajakumara and his collaborators could bring the joy of parenthood to the infertile couples, by increasing the success rate of IVF. While IIT-H has separate Biomedical & Biotechnology Departments nurturing our own talents, this outcome demonstrates the power of synergistic collaborations with other institutions,” said Prof B S Murty Director IIT-H.