Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley have discovered a new protein that powers a sperm towards a human egg. The discovery could lead to the development of a contraceptive pill that could be taken by both men and women.
According to the researchers, the protein identified as ABHD2 powers the tail of a sperm to ‘crack like a whip’ and ‘power kick’ its way into the egg. The protein sits on a sperm’s tail and it responds to the female sex hormone progesterone, which is released by the egg. When the sperm gets closer to the egg, the hormone activates the protein, thus, causing the tail to snap like a whip powering the sperm into the egg. If the protein does not respond to the female hormone, it causes infertility.
The only task of the scientists now is to develop a drug, which could be used as a unisex contraceptive that could inactivate the protein. Moreover, the discovery also raises the prospect of improving fertility, i.e, reactivating the protein where it is failing.