British researchers claim that hormone kisspeptin shows promise as a potential new treatment for infertility.
The study, led by Dr Waljit Dhillo from Imperial College London, has shown that giving kisspeptin to women with infertility can activate the release of sex hormones, which control the menstrual cycle.
According to researchers, the study could lead to a new fertility therapy for women with low sex hormone levels.
Kisspeptin is a product of the KISS-1 gene and is a key regulator of reproductive function. Animals and humans lacking kisspeptin function do not go through puberty and remain sexually immature.
Dr Waljit Dhillo and colleagues have already shown that kisspeptin treatment leads to the production of sex hormones in fertile women.
Now, they have extended their research to look at the effects of kisspeptin in women whose periods have stopped due to a hormone imbalance.
In this study, a group of ten women who were not menstruating and infertile, were injected with either kisspeptin or saline.
Blood samples were then taken to measure their levels of luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), two sex hormones essential for ovulation and fertility.
The researchers found that kisspeptin led to a 48-fold increase in LH and 16-fold increase in FSH, when compared to the control treatment.
This is the first study to show that kisspeptin can stimulate sex hormones in women with infertility and presents kisspeptin as a potential new therapy for human infertility.
Dhillo said: This is a very exciting result and suggests that kisspeptin treatment could restore reproductive function in women with low sex hormone levels. Our future research will focus on determining the best protocol for repeated kisspeptin administration with the hope of developing a new therapy for infertility."
The research is being presented at the annual Society for Endocrinology BES meeting in Harrogate.