Cannabis-based boost for smokers' suffering sperm

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Jim Finnel

Cannabis Warrior - News Moderator
A synthetic chemical based on those found in marijuana may fix a problem that, paradoxically, affects the sperm of cigarette smokers.

A new synthetic cannabinoid appears to restore the ability of the sperm to bind to the outside of human eggs. The finding is unexpected since smoking marijuana itself appears to decrease male fertility, the researchers say.

Previous studies have shown that cigarette smokers' sperm cannot fasten as well to the outside of human eggs, explains Lani Burkman at the University at Buffalo, New York, US.

Cells within the reproductive system have receptors that bind to cannabis-like chemicals that are produced naturally in the body, so Burkman and colleagues tested a synthetic version of a cannabis compound, called cannabinoid-1346, to see if it might fix this problem.
In the zona

After treating the sperm with the synthetic drug, researchers mixed it with the hollowed shells of human eggs, which had originally been obtained for in-vitro fertilisation but proved unviable. After mixing the two, the researchers examined them under a microscope to see how many sperm attached to the shell, also known as the zona.

The drug appeared to double the ability of the sperm to bind with the zona compared with the untreated smokers' sperm. It might have boosted the binding ability of some sperm back to the normal levels seen in non-smokers, says Burkman.

The drug may work by binding preferentially to the receptors on the outside of the sperm cells that are targeted by nicotine or cannabinoid molecules, the researchers suggest.

The binding of the sperm to the zona is a crucial step in egg fertilisation. Burkman hopes that cannabinoid-1346 might one day be used to treat smokers' sperm before it is used for artificial insemination.

Burkman presented the findings yesterday at the annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana, US.


Source: Cannabis-based boost for smokers' suffering sperm - life - 24 October 2006 - New Scientist