University of Missouri School of Medicine MU Health School of Medicine

Researchers Unlock Keys to Beginning of Human Life

Gary Clark, PhD
Gary Clark, PhD, associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and women's health at MU, defines how sperm penetrates an egg's outer sugar coating, which plays a vital role in allowing the two to bind together, in an article in the journal Science.

Article in Science could help couples have children by revealing how sperm and eggs bind

Researchers have uncovered exactly how a human egg captures an incoming sperm to begin the fertilization process. Their discovery was reported Aug. 18 in an article published in the journal Science.

The research identifies the sugar molecule that makes the outer coat of the egg "sticky," which is vital for enabling the sperm and egg to bind together. Researchers across the world have been trying to understand what performs this task for more than 30 years.

The scientists behind this study believe their work could help address some of the previously unexplained causes of human infertility and sub-fertility and be very useful for diagnosing this problem in couples who are unable to have children. It could also provide a new target for the development of natural contraceptive agents.

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