They describe details in the current issue of the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences”.
It was already known that fusion only occurs when the tension on the surface of the sperm changes. To do this, a so-called ion channel must become active, which smuggles potassium ions out of the cell at the right moment. However, it was not yet clear which channel in the sperm takes on this task.
Santi and colleagues have now tested numerous active ingredients from the search for substances that paralyze these ion channels. They succeeded with a molecule called VU0546110. In tests they showed that this substance specifically inhibits an ion channel called SLO3, which means that the processes required for merging do not occur. Apparently SLO3 is the responsible channel.
According to experts, two kinds of insights could be drawn from this: On the one hand, men whose gene is defective for this channel could be infertile, which has not yet been explained. On the other hand, a contraceptive could be developed on the basis of VU0546110 that takes advantage of its effect. “In principle, I also see this possibility, the potential for it is clearly there,” says Artur Mayerhofer from the LMU Munich to the “Science Media Center”. However, it is a long and unpredictable way from the clear laboratory result to practical implementation.
A major advantage of this substance is that it inhibits a channel called SLO3 that is only found in sperm. Side effects in the cells of other tissues are therefore not to be feared for the time being, unless it turns out that the molecule also affects other biochemical processes in the body.
Nevertheless, many studies are still needed to prove “whether an SLO3 inhibitor actually prevents fertilization and if so, how efficiently, [even in the living organism],” says one of the co-discoverers of the channel, Timo Strünker from the University Hospital in Münster.
Whether the molecule is suitable as a candidate for the long-sought “pill for men” is also open, says Strünker. “Because the SLO3 channel and the sperm do not have to fulfill their function in the male body, but only in the female body.” So only shortly before fertilization itself.
As the American “Vogue” reports, the supermodel Tatjana Patitz died. She was 56 years old.
When I read the police report today, I was honestly shocked: It said there were families with small children among the occupiers of the lignite town of Lützerath. Small children? In the battle zone against global warming! Are you crazy?
The original of this article “Researchers discover an active ingredient that makes sperm bounce off egg cells” comes from Spektrum.de.