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  Monday, October 14, 2019
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Studies in infertile female mice are helping scientists understand why women sometimes fail to conceive
The rodents are specially bred to lack a specific receptor on womb cells, called the lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) receptor. While they produce eggs in the normal way, after fertilization these otherwise healthy embryos have trouble implanting in the receptor-deficient womb. The finding could apply to human females, because they also have LPA receptors lying on the surface of their uterine cells. Researchers reporting in the May 4 issue of Nature say their discovery may open up new areas of fertility research and treatment, tells the New York Times. Researchers in the United States have found that mice lacking the molecule, known as an LPA receptor, have difficulty becoming pregnant, even though their eggs are readily fertilised. As the same receptors are active in the human womb, the findings offer potentially valuable insights into a common cause of childlessness. If the LPA receptor also affects human embryo implantation, drugs could be designed to manipulate its action to improve pregnancy rates. The discovery, which is published today in the journal Nature, emerged as a spin-off from research into the role of a class of fats known as phospholipids, which play an important signalling role in many cells. The LPA receptor molecule binds to a type of phospholipid ? lysophosphatidic acid, or LPA. Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, initially were studying its role in the brain. A team led by Jerold Chun created mice in which the gene for the LPA receptor was knocked out to examine its role in the brain, and noticed that the mice that lacked LPA receptors had serious fertility problems, publishes the Times Online
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