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Infertility breakthrough

6th March 2007

The fight against infertility has gained new ground recently as British scientists believe they have uncovered a breakthrough in treating sterility in women.

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The researchers at London's Hammersmith Hospital think they may be able to treat some cases of infertility with an injection of the hormone kisspeptin. Scientists already know that kisspeptin is responsible for the onset of puberty but this new study has revealed that a shot of the hormone can stimulate the release of the other hormones that control menstruation. Six small doses of kisspeptin were injected into healthy volunteers who were then monitored to see what effect it would have on their ovulation. The six women experienced a rise in their circulating concentrations of luteinising hormone (LH), which is essential for ovulation. The scientists found that kisspeptin increased LH concentrations at all stages of the menstrual cycle, but the effect was greatest in the pre-ovulation phase.

Dr Waljit Dhillo, who headed up the research team said, "Kisspeptin has previously been shown to potently stimulate hormone release in animals, but this is the first time that it has been shown to stimulate sex hormone release in women. We might now look at giving this hormone to women who have no periods, those with irregular cycles or who have a period but do not ovulate.?

One in nine couples is affected by infertility in the UK, a figure which is rising as increasing numbers of people choose to start a family later in life.

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