In what could be termed as a blessing for the mankind, the scientists have discovered a very important component essential for female fertility.
The scientists have uncovered a protein, named Juno, which plays a vital role in the fertilization of eggs.
The etymology of Juno is given after the Roman goddess of marriage and childbirth.
According to the scientists this discovery can do wonders in improving fertility treatments and contraceptives. New drugs or vaccines can be developed that can work by blocking Juno or its interaction with Izumo1, an artificial sperm protein.
The protein sits on the surface of the egg and helps the sperm cells to latch on to. The scientists say the eggs that lack the Juno protein appears normal but they lack the ability of penetration. During mating, such eggs become impenetrable for the sperm rendering them effectively sterile. After the sperm binds with the egg, Juno gradually becomes virtually undetectable after 40 minutes, the scientists found.
The discovery can help the scientists in solving many infertility cases of women having an abnormal version of the Juno protein.
Japanese scientists found the male equivalent on the surface of sperm in 2005. The discovery had sparked a long hunt for its “mate”.
“We have solved a longstanding mystery in biology by identifying the molecules displayed on all sperm and egg that must bind each other at the moment we were conceived. Without this essential interaction, fertilisation just cannot happen,” said, Gavin Wright, from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridgeshire.
“Yet the information could be immensely useful to help in the diagnosis of infertility but also in the design of new novel contraceptives for both humans and other animal species,” said Allan Pacey, a fertility expert at the University of Sheffield.
The study was published in the journal Nature.