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New Discovery May Help Doctors Treat Infertility

August 2005

NIEHS researchers determined that fertility drugs may not work for women who lack the estrogen receptor beta.

According to a study conducted by Kenneth Korach, in the Laboratory of Reproductive and Developmental Toxicology, fertility drugs don't improve ovulation rates in mice that are genetically engineered to lack the receptor, one of two proteins that mediate the effects of estrogen hormones. The new data shows that this receptor plays a critical role in ovulation. It also suggests that women who do not have it may have more success with alternative fertility treatments. The findings are reported in the August issue of Endocrinology.

If the results of the study are found to be applicable to humans, a blood test will provide enough information to determine if a genetic mutation may alter the function of the receptor. The results of the blood test, in addition to information from other medical tests and evaluations, will help diagnose infertility and better determine treatment options.

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