April 28, 2016
(New Scientist) – Gotcha. Sticky beads that capture healthy sperm could work as a new form of contraceptive, while also helping fertility doctors select the best sperm for IVF. The beads work by mimicking a human egg, a trick that persuades sperm to bind to them. With a diameter as little as 0.037 millimetres, the polymer beads are slightly smaller than an egg. They are coated in a protein called ZP2, the same one that sperm recognise and bind to on the egg’s surface so that they can fertilise it. Hijacking this system, as Jurrien Dean at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases in Bethesda, Maryland, and his team have done, could have several uses in contraception and fertility treatments.
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