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Lab Notes: Weak Sperm Passed Down to Sons

MedPageToday, 2012

As a side effect of tetracycline, reduced sperm viability appears to carry over from father to son, researchers found in a study of spiders.
Weekly doses of the common antibiotic from birth to adulthood cut sperm viability by up to 25% among male pseudoscorpions and their untreated male offspring, the group reported in Scientific Reports .
"This is the first research to show a transgenerational effect of antibiotics," David Zeh, PhD, of the University of Nevada in Reno, explained in a press release.
Tetracycline and some other antibiotics have been shown to reduce men's sperm quality too, so a similar effect on fertility -- perhaps due to epigenetic changes in reproductive tissues -- might be seen in humans and other species, the group noted.
In the not-too-distant future, smartphone technology could help neurologists keep tabs on functional abilities in their multiple sclerosis patients, researchers in Boston believe.
A project team at Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has developed a prototype Android smartphone loaded with "apps" that measure memory, vision, motor skills, and patients' subjective impressions both actively and passively.
The apps include direct tests of visual acuity and cognition, but also subtler ways of monitoring users' functional ability, by tracking their typing speed, social contacts, mobility, and physical activity.
An initial clinical study is now being organized and an important part of the project is ensuring patient privacy, according to Harvard's Sashank Prasad, MD, who demonstrated the technology at the American Academy of Neurology's annual meeting earlier this week.
Blocking a receptor on brain cells might help alleviate some of the common symptoms of autism, if experiments in mice translate to people, according to researchers led by Jacqueline Crawley, PhD, of the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Md.
The researchers tested the idea, they reported online in Science Translational Medicine , in mice that demonstrate autism-like symptoms -- unusual social interactions, impaired communication, and repetitive behaviors.
Blocking the metabotropic glutamate receptor subtype 5 led to better sociability and reductions in repetitive movements.