In Japan, desire for fertility, not infertility, led to a reported discovery:Interferon can jump-start sperm production.While checking for any adverse effects of interferon onspermatogenesis in rats, urologists Masanori Yamamoto and KojiMijake of Nagoya University School of Medicine found that some oftheir rodents on interferon showed increased sperm densityMoving from rat to man, the clinicians treated three patients witholigospermia (low sperm density), whom they had diagnosed as having"idiopathic infertility." After two months of daily intramuscularinjections of alpha-interferon, all three had "significant improvement insperm density and motility," according to a brief communication in thecurrent Lancet (dated Aug. 27).Two of the three were able to impregnate their wives.Noting that impotence is a reported side effect of interferon therapy,the authors allowed, "We can offer no pharmacological mechanism toexplain our results." They added that their "promising clinical resultsmay pave the way for a new approach to therapy for many infertilemen."In a note to science writers, The Lancet editorial staff remarked thatbecause this is the first reported use of interferon to treat infertility,"the observations should be treated with caution." _ David N. Leff

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