Researchers crack the Y chromosome code

A scientific breakthrough could shed light on some of the biggest threats facing men's health. 

Driving the news: According to new research published in the Journal of Nature, scientists have fully sequenced the DNA of the Y chromosome.

  • Fully understanding the Y chromosome—present alongside an X chromosome in cells of people born male—had proven challenging until now, with over half of its sequences unknown.

Why it matters: The breakthrough will open doors for new medical research into the links between Y chromosomes and male health problems, including infertility, cancer, and heart disease. 

  • If you’ve ever wondered why women live longer than men, scientists believe one of the causes is that many men lose their Y chromosomes in some of their cells as they age, leaving them more vulnerable to health complications. 

  • Scientists believe some genes in the Y chromosome are needed to prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Zoom out: Drugs designed to counteract the negative impact of the natural loss of Y chromosomes already exist. This breakthrough could lead to the development of more treatments for the life-threatening diseases that men typically experience as they age.—LA