Answering the question of “how do babies come in this world” is not easy at any age. You may laugh now, but as children we all heard the stories about some birds and some bees, some storks or other similar versions, while as adults, we are probably telling our children the same tales, so they can find out later, in an academical environment, the truth about conception and birth. But science went even further in trying to find out the finest, most discrete mechanisms of conception and if you think they had all the answers all this time, you would be wrong. So far, medically, genetically and biologically wise, people know that fertilization occurs when an egg cell meets a sperm cell which recognize each other and then fuse to create an embryo. But how do these cells recognize each other? How does our body decides which lucky sperm cell will meet the lucky egg cell and become a human being?
This question has just been answered by a team of researchers who published their results in Nature Magazine. Everything started back in 2005, when a team of Japanese researchers identified a protein on the surface of a sperm cell which they called Izumo which “finds” a similar protein on the egg cell and allows the two to match each other and fuse. However, the Japanese researchers didn’t identify the female side of this protein until now. Last week, a team of British researchers finally managed to identify Juno, an egg cell protein that recognizes Izumo. The two were found to be essential for reproduction in mammals, including humans, and of course, the next step in research is to identify the roles of Juno and Izumo in infertility cases. The new protein finding gives hope to infertility patients, as, just the researchers said,
We are now asking whether Juno is involved in these cases of unexplained infertility
Moreover, the joined efforts of the Japanese and British researchers from the Welcome Trust Sanger Institute in Britain led to a new hope in the further discovery of infertility causes, as about 20 percent of infertility cases have an unexplained cause, according to the researchers. Now, with these findings, the future research could focus more on the behavior and mechanisms of the Juno protein in order to explain and treat infertility in women. The procedures are said to involve a simple genetic screening which is non – invasive, in order to narrow down the infertility causes. Based on such results, efficient, personalized treatments can be further developed. While the new protein finding gives hope to infertility patients, the research continues and the development of treatments is on its way.