New Fertility hope
A new study will help physicians evaluate simple fertility treatments for couples who have unexplained infertility, defined as being unable to get pregnant after trying for a year without success for no apparent reason. A study in The New England Journal of Medicine co-authored by UF Health obstetrician Gregory Christman, M.D., outlined three different infertility treatments and the rate at which they help patients become pregnant. Christman said patients who have unexplained infertility may often be advised to undergo in vitro fertilization, or IVF, a type of fertility treatment in which embryos are placed into a woman’s uterus. Compared with other fertility treatments, IVF is much more expensive. Women were randomly assigned to three different types of treatment: letrozole, found recently to be the most effective fertility drug for women with polycystic ovarian disease; Clomid, a commonly used drug that helps trigger ovulation; and gonadotropins, which are injected medications that stimulate the ovaries directly. The study found that 35.5 percent of the women given gonadotropins became pregnant, whereas the pregnancy rates for Clomid and letrozole were 28.3 percent and 22.4 percent, respectively. — Morgan Sherburne
Studying hepatitis C treatment A research team at UF Health has been approved for a $15.48 million research funding award by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, or PCORI, to study the effectiveness of three medications used to treat hepatitis C. The five-year, randomized clinical trial will be led at UF by David R. Nelson, M.D., director of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute and a professor of medicine in the College of Medicine. Other lead sites for the study include The Johns Hopkins University, the University of North Carolina and the University of Michigan. The trial’s main goal will be to compare the recently approved oral medications to determine if one of them is more effective at curing hepatitis C, Nelson said. Researchers also hope to learn more about the drugs’ side effects and whether they work equally well in real-world conditions when used by a diverse group of patients that includes minorities and people with other medical conditions.
— Doug Bennett
Understanding the cause of birth defects One of the most common birth defects in boys occurs when the urethra develops incompletely, affecting where the opening develops on the penis. Now, researchers from the UF Genetics Institute have discovered clues as to what may cause this common defect — information that could shed light on other birth defects as well. Hypospadias occurs when the urethra develops incompletely. Instead of opening at the tip of the penis, the hole appears further up the shaft. Marissa Gredler, Ph.D., studied mice to examine how a gene that codes for the protein fibroblast growth factor receptor 2, or Fgfr2, regulates urethral tube development. This protein influences cell division and cell adhesion, and, therefore, tissue development. Gredler found that deleting Fgfr2 from only the embryonic skin, or only in the urethra, led to different urethral defects. — Ellison Langford