Writing in the journal PNAS, researchers at the Monell Center in the US have made the surprising discovery that two genes involved in taste also play a role in male fertility. While studying mice lacking the genes encoding two taste-signalling proteins, the scientists found they were unable to breed from male animals missing both proteins together, while animals missing just one could produce offspring just fine.
Looking closer, the team found that a drug called clofibrate - which is commonly used to treat diseases such as high cholesterol - could block the human version of one of the proteins, called TAS1R3. But its effects were reversed when the drug was taken away. As well as having implications for rising rates of male infertility in many parts of the world, the researchers also think their finding could also help lead to new types of male contraceptives