How does COVID-19 affect sperm and thus the next generation’s immune system? Researchers from the University of Bergen are collecting sperm to find the answer.
So far, 50 COVID-19 patients between 30 and 40 have delivered a sperm sample. Students are next in line. The plan is that participants will return after 12 months for more testing.
The project aims to see how the infection affects the development of the immune system and, follow-up studies will reveal how COVID-19 will affect the immune system of their future children.
“The immune system is trained by infections of all kinds. We want to study how it is affected by COVID-19 and also if the infection has implications for future generation’s immune systems. That is why we decided to study sperm in addition to whole blood,” says Professor Cecilie Svanes, at Centre for International Health, University of Bergen.
This is the first study of its kind on human beings. The COVID-19 pandemic gives researchers a new and unique opportunity to study immune-training and how the infection may have an effect on the next generation. Svanes is leading the study together with Professor Rebecca Cox at The Influenza Centre, University of Bergen.
Infections train the immune system
All kinds of infections stimulate reactions in our immune system. The researchers want to find out if COVID-19 trains the immune system in a good or bad way.
“Previous testing on animals have shown that infections can affect a future generation’s immune system in both a negative and a positive way,” Svanes says.
Infections by micro-worms, so-called helminths, were found to have a positive effect on the immune system among mouse offspring. Sepsis, on the other hand, had a negative effect on the next generation of mice.
The researchers in the study believe the link between infection, sperm, and offspring is the result of epigenetic changes, affecting how the hereditary material is “read and understood” and how the body builds the proteins involved in the immune system. The researchers are studying the messenger-RNA, which translates the DNA to proteins.
“If one compares the hereditary material with a cookbook, the epigenetics is about which of the recipes are to be read. We believe that an infection can affect this process,” Svanes explains.
Should maybe wait to have children
The researchers cannot wait for the COVID-19 patients to have children, so that they can study any effects of the father’s infection on the offspring’s immune response. They study and compare sperm and blood from the patients with that taken from a large control group without COVID-19.
The control group are participants in the large European RHINESSA-study, where the participants from seven different countries have been followed over 20 years. The database contains information on how lung health, asthma, allergies, and associated diseases have developed over time.
“If we find considerable negative changes in sperm, there is a possibility that we will advise people to wait with having children, for example, one year after a COVID-19 infection,” says Cecilie Svanes.
Most of this is over my head, but that does not prevent me from trying to grasp some of it. I find inner space much more interesting than going to Mars, as I feel molecular world discoveries will surely affect humanity in a positive manner, and think we have a moral responsibility to know inner space well before we go on these useless jaunts to Mars, and wish I could relay how strongly I feel about this.
I also keep an eye on the “ID Crowd” who keep a close eye on the molecular world, and now that NASA fired one of their scientists for merely suggesting that NASA should pay attention to this group, I feel that goes against science itself.
Would it not be comedic if molecular biologists stumbled onto Intelligent Design within a strand of DNA?
World renowned mathematicians have stepped out front and have notified their colleagues the impossibility that a blind unguided process could ever produce humans, as there is information within the cell, and you cannot have information without thought involved. Science has built a wall around themselves when it comes to anything other than evolution, but smart money says science will and already have found design within the cell, but no professor will threaten their tenure or position in even muttering the fact we were possibly designed, or worse, that the Devine is within us all, whether you accept it or not.
NASA an agency of the government, mission is not to find the truth, but why have they spent billions in finding an organic molecule?
Think about it, who really cares if they succeed.
I read several books that changed me to never deny what I cannot see.
My mentor was once Carl Sagon, and still love reading his books, but Carl loved the word mystery, and his beloved Voyager sent us a message yesterday telling us it was holding on to life, and was elated to hear that.
Carl, surely was not a believer, but he never denied the mystery of it all.
I bet you are waiting for my second book, are you not. The one book or banned gospels put it all together for this once lukewarm Christian.
I was always interested in anything banned by wicked church leaders, so the Lost Gospels surely peaked my interest, and made me a devout believer in God.
One in particular I decided to listen to on Audible. The Gospel of Mary Magdaline was what I needed to understand Jesus Christ.
The Gospel of Thomas also helped.
I apologize for mentioning such in a science thread, but science always meant one thing to me. Science is the study of anything that puzzles us.
Blessings to All & forgive my grammar.