[Pharmwaste] hormone-free contraceptive pill on the horizon
Laurie.Tenace at dep.state.fl.us
Fri Dec 12 10:38:31 EST 2008
the whole article requires a subscription, but I thought I'd share this
Hormone-free contraceptive pill on the horizon
09 December 2008
A PROTEIN that plays a crucial role in conception could be the key to
creating a contraceptive that doesn't tinker with a woman's hormones.
The coating of mammalian eggs contains a protein called ZP3, which sperm must
bind to if they are to burrow through the coating and fertilise the egg.
Female mice engineered to lack ZP3 do not have this coating, making them
infertile, while women with abnormal ZP3 may also suffer fertility problems.
Luca Jovine at the Karolinska Institute in Huddinge, Sweden, and his
colleagues have used X-ray crystallography to work out the chemical structure
of a stretch of mouse ZP3 that gives the protein its structural properties
(Nature, DOI: 10.1038/nature07599). As the equivalent stretch of human ZP3 is
likely to be similar in structure, Jovine says it may be possible to design
drugs that bind to ZP3, thereby preventing the coating from forming and
rendering women temporarily infertile.
Such a drug might avoid some of the side effects of today's oral
contraceptives, which disrupt hormone production throughout the body.
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