BGN Technologies, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev's technology transfer company, announced today that BGU researchers are developing a new, single-dose fertility treatment based on a new telomerase-activating compound, which could improve both male and female fertility. The groundbreaking technology was developed by Prof. Esther Priel and her research group, at BGU's Faculty of Health Sciences in consultation with the In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) Laboratory at Soroka University Medical Center.
The new treatment stimulates the expression of the telomerase, the enzyme that is responsible for maintenance of telomeres, DNA sequences at the tip of a chromosome that affect the life span of cells in general and contribute to infertility. The novel treatment re-elongates the telomeres and protects cells from damages, thereby increasing cell viability and increasing the likelihood of fertilization and embryo generation and implantation. The treatment is applied as a single dose, and dissipates within 24 hours. The compound was tested on mice, and showed no toxic effects in animal studies.
“We've evaluated the efficacy of the new compound in mice and found that a single dose greatly improves fertility in both female and male mice," said Prof. Priel. “One dose speeds up egg maturation and ovulation, increases the number of ovulated eggs, and results in a larger number of viable offspring."
“The compound also showed a protective effect on ovaries and testes of mice undergoing radiation suggesting that it might be able to protect and improve the fertility of women and men undergoing radiation therapy for cancer," she added.
The compound is a member of a family of several telomerase activating compounds, that were found to affect several degenerative diseases, developed in a research collaboration between Prof. Priel, Prof. Shimon Slavin and Dr. Aviv Gazit.
“The promising preclinical results and especially the fact that a single dose was sufficient to demonstrate the efficacy of the compound could lead to a highly accessible treatment option," stated Dr. Ora Horovitz, Senior Vice President of Business Development at BGN Technologies. “We are now seeking collaboration for further development of this promising treatment towards human clinical trials and commercialization."
The global fertility services market is expected to exceed $21 billion by 2020 according to a report published by Technavio.