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Funding supports Qubec-China research project into the causes of male infertility


Montreal, QC – The Fonds de la recherche en santé du Québec (FRSQ), Génome Québec and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) have announced the funding of a first project as part of their joint program for research on genomics and diseases, which was launched in July 2010. The project will bring together research teams from Québec and China to better understand the causes of male infertility through innovative genomic investigations.

“Funding joint projects with China is a first for the FRSQ and constitutes a tangible positive outcome of the FRSQ-NSFC Genomics Workshop that was held in Beijing in October 2009,” says Yves Joanette, president and CEO, FRSQ.

This type of project is in keeping with the collaborative focus of our strategic plan and should mark the start of a productive scientific relationship between Québec and China,” says Jean-Marc Proulx, president and CEO, Génome Québec.

“We are particularly pleased to be working in partnership with Génome Quebec on this joint call for proposals,” says Dr Howard Bergman, vice-president, scientific affairs, FRSQ. “The next joint scientific workshop with the NSFC will be held in Montreal this fall on the theme of aging and will very likely be followed by another joint call for proposals.”

The FRSQ and Génome Québec will fund the research team from Québec, providing close to $150,000 for three years. The NSFC will support the Chinese team, granting 450,000 yuans for three years.

Simon Wing, a researcher at McGill University’s Faculty of Medicine, will lead the group from Québec, and Wenming Xu, a researcher at the West China Second University Hospital of Sichuan University in Chengdu will lead the Chinese team. Dr Wing’s group has developed extensive expertise in mouse models, and the Chinese researchers have built a cutting-edge clinical infrastructure. The merging of these capabilities brings a significant added-value to the project.

Together, the experts aim to better understand the causes of male infertility that are attributable to developmental and functional anomalies in sperm cells. More specifically, the teams will explore the role of the HUWE1 enzyme in the normal maturation process of spermatozoa, investigating its role in the modification of sperm DNA structure and whether its function is modified in men who suffer from infertility. This work could lead to the development of new targets for more precise diagnosis of causes of infertility.