I remembered my science teacher as I read an article about the reproductive system. The article said that scientists had found out how the egg in the reproduction process captures the sperm. This really got me wandering, “didn’t they know?” “What have they been teaching us in school?” what I did not realise was that yes, they knew the ovary from the woman captured the sperm they just didn’t know how it all happened. Finally, they now know of how this happens. No, it’s not a theory or anything theoretical as of that matter.
In a study in the journal science, an international team of researchers found that a specific kind of sugar molecule makes the outer coat of the egg “sticky” helping the egg and the sperm bind together. “The details we’ve discovered here fill in a huge gap in our knowledge of fertility and we hope they will ultimately help many people who currently cannot conceive.” Said Anne Dell of Imperial College London. She had worked on the study with scientists from the universities of Missouri and Hong Kong and the Academia Sinica in Taiwan.
The world health organization estimates that infertility affects up to fifteen percent of reproductive-aged couples around the world and almost one in every seven couples in Britain has problems conceiving children for various of reasons, many of which remain unexplained my medical science.
Scientists already know that a sperm “recognizes” an egg when proteins on the head of the sperm meet and match a series of specific sugars in the egg’s outer coating. Once a successful match has made, the outside surfaces of the sperm and egg bind together before they merge and the sperm delivers its DNA to the inside, fertilizing the egg. In this new study, researchers used ultra – sensitive mass – spectrometric imaging technology to assess which molecules were most likely to be key in the binding process. They found that a sugar chain known as the sialyl-lewis-x sequence (SLeX) is abundant on the surface of the human egg, and after experimenting with a range of synthesized sugars in the laboratory they found that it is SLeX that specifically binds sperm to an egg. To make sure they then tested their findings using the outer coats of unfertilized “non – living” human eggs.
Dell said that the research was enormously difficult “because human eggs are very tiny so we didn’t have much material to work with.”
Poh-Choo Pang, also from imperial and who worked on the study, said that although clinical treatments derived from this discovery are a long way off, it could open up new possibilities for understanding fertility problems faced by many couples.
The researchers further said that they now want to use the findings of this work to further investigate the proteins on the head of a sperm that enable it to recognize an egg.
This for sure is good news to lots of us. The world will be changed forever and for sure nothing is impossible if we only believe.
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