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Canada and China to Partner on Infertility Genomics

By a GenomeWeb Staff Reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Canada and China will partner on a project that will undertake genomic investigations into the causes of male infertility.

In the partnership, Genome Quebec and the Fonds de la recherche en santé du Québec (FRSQ), a Canadian non-profit research foundation, will work with the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) studying male infertility in what will be the first part of a program focusing on genomics and diseases, FRSQ said today.

The FRSQ and Genome Quebec will support the research conducted in Quebec with C$150,000 (US$154,000) for three years of research, and the NSFC will provide 450, 000 yuans ($68,000) also to cover three years.

The Canada-China partnership was launched in July 2010.

"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," FRSQ President and CEO Yves Joanette explained in a statement.

"This structuring project will lead to a better understanding of the genome's role in human illness and broaden Quebec's horizons," added Jean-Marc Proulx, president and CEO of Genome Quebec.

"We also hope that it will yield significant scientific breakthroughs. 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 Quebec and China," Proulx said.

The research effort seeks to understand the causes of male infertility that are attributable to developmental and functional anomalies in sperm cells. Specifically, the studies will look into the role that the HUWE1 enzyme has in the normal maturation process of spermatozoa and will investigate its role in modifying sperm DNA structure and if its function is modified in men suffering from infertility. The goal is to develop new targets for more precise diagnosis of the causes of infertility.

One in seven couples around the world are infertile, with one third of fertility issues suffered by men, one-third by women, and one third by both, FRSQ said.

The next joint scientific workshop between the Canadian and Chinese partners, which is likely to generate another call for proposals, will be held in Montreal this fall and will focus on aging, said FRSQ VP of Scientific Affairs Howard Bergman.

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