Hormone-free contraceptive pill on the anvil

December 10th, 2008 - 12:56 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Dec 10 (ANI): A side effect of todays contraceptive pills is that they disrupt hormone production in women, but now, scientists have found a protein target, which could pave the way for contraceptive that doesn”t tinker with a woman’’s hormones.

The protein, called ZP3, is present in the coating of mammalian eggs. It plays a crucial role in conception, as the sperm must bind to ZP3 if they are to burrow through the coating and fertilise the egg.

Scientists found that female mice engineered to lack ZP3 do not have this coating, making them infertile, while women with abnormal ZP3 may also suffer fertility problems.

For the study, Luca Jovine at the Karolinska Institute in Huddinge, Sweden, and his colleagues used X-ray crystallography to work out the chemical structure of a stretch of mouse ZP3 that gives the protein its structural properties.

Jovine said as the equivalent stretch of human ZP3 is likely to be similar in structure; they could design drugs that bind to ZP3, reports New Scientist.

It would thus prevent the coating from forming and rendering women temporarily infertile. (ANI)

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