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11/11/2011

ICIRA RESEARCH AWARD FOR INSTITUTO BERNABEU AND THE UNIVERSITY OF ALICANTE

The team of researchers from Instituto Bernabeu and the UA, directed by professor Joaquín De Juan Herrero of the University of Alicante Cellular Biology department, has earned the first ICIRA (MerkSerono) award, worth 6000€, in the category CONTRIBUTION OF RELEVANT INFORMATION IN ASSISTED REPRODUCTION TREATMENT, for its project called "Distribution of cannabinoid neuron receptors (CB1 and CB2) on human sperm cells and the implication on their motility".

This is a joint research project conducted by the Reproduction Biology department of the prestigious Instituto Bernabeu Alicante and the University of Alicante Biotechnology Department. This project studied the effects of cannabinoids (the active substances of marihuana) and endocannabinoids, produced by the human body, on male fertility.

The research project also established the location and distribution of these receptors in human sperm cells. It verified important modifications in the behaviour and function of these cells under the effect of cannabinoids.

According to the collected data, cannabinoids have a significant effect on the movement of sperm cells, reducing their progressive motility and increasing the proportion of non-motile sperm cells, which are therefore unable to fertilise the female egg. They also cause a premature increase in their acrosome reaction, which is needed to enter the female egg, therefore reducing the fertilising capacity of the human sperm cell. Finally, a marked and significant decrease in the viability was also observed in male germ cells.

These findings provide new perspectives for researching the fertilising capacity of male germ cells that allow us to learn about the complex mechanisms of human fertilisation. They also reveal the influence of many exogenous factors (medicines, drugs, endocrine disruptors, etc.) on this small cell that is so complex despite its simple appearance.

This is one of the most important awards in the national reproductive medicine field. This year, the jury was represented by Dr. Federico Pérez (President of SEF, the Spanish Fertility Society), Dr. Manuel Ardoy (President of ASEBIR, Spanish Association of Reproduction Biology) and Dr. José Cabrera (Medical Director of Merck).

The award was grated to Dr. Rafael Bernabeu, director of Instituto Bernabeu, on Thursday 10 November in Madrid.

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