Infertility in men can be a very painful and depressing time for them. Not being able to father a child can ruin a man’s future. But new research out of Queen’s University have come up with a promising method that could treat male infertility by using a synthetic version of a protein that originates in sperm called PAWP.

This protein has been developed by the researchers, which are found to be sufficient, and needed to initiate the fertilization process. The research is focused on male factor infertility where a patient’s sperm cannot induce or initiate activation of the egg in order to form the early embryo.

“PAWP is able to induce embryo development in human eggs in a fashion similar to the natural triggering of embryo development by the sperm cell during fertilization,” explains Dr. Oko, head researcher. “Based on our findings, we envision that physicians will be able to improve their diagnosis and treatment of infertility, a problem that affects 10 to 15 per cent of couples worldwide.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2013 Annual Report on Assisted Reproductive Technologies, only about 37 per cent of treatment cycles lead to successful pregnancy. This is due to a variety of factors in both the sexes and also about how the sperm is unable to initiate fertilization and trigger embryo development when entering the egg.

PAWP, due to the results found in the study, has potential for clinical applications in infertility treatment, which have traditionally been done these days by directly injecting a single sperm into an egg. The supplementation of PAWP protein instead may be used to improve the success rate of infertility treatments in the future.