HK study finds molecule that offers fertility hope

Last Updated: Saturday, August 27, 2011 - 09:25

Hong Kong: Hong Kong scientists said Friday they have discovered a molecule that binds human sperm to an egg, in a breakthrough which offers new hope for infertile couples.

The study by researchers at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) found a key molecule on the coating of the human egg, called sialyl-LewisX (SLeX), which acts as a binding agent to help the sperm and egg stick together.

"This research provides an enlightening answer to a basic important question and human fertilisation -- how does a sperm bind to an egg?" William Yeung, one of the researchers, told AFP.

"But this is only a first step that will lead to more discoveries," said Yeung, who is also a professor at HKU`s department of obstetrics and gynaecology.

The identification of SLeX will help to pinpoint patients whose infertility results from a lack of the substance.

Armed with this information, they will then be able to choose a fertility treatment known as intracytoplasmic sperm injection, which directly injects a single sperm into the egg, said the researcher.

The study, which began in 2009, found SLeX on 70 percent of all the 195 unfertilised eggs tested. The eggs were donated by patients.

Researchers expect the discovery to be put into clinical use in two years.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong scientists said Friday they have discovered a molecule that binds human sperm to an egg, in a breakthrough which offers new hope for infertile couples.

The study by researchers at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) found a key molecule on the coating of the human egg, called sialyl-LewisX (SLeX), which acts as a binding agent to help the sperm and egg stick together.

"This research provides an enlightening answer to a basic important question and human fertilisation -- how does a sperm bind to an egg?" William Yeung, one of the researchers, told AFP.

"But this is only a first step that will lead to more discoveries," said Yeung, who is also a professor at HKU`s department of obstetrics and gynaecology.

The identification of SLeX will help to pinpoint patients whose infertility results from a lack of the substance.

Armed with this information, they will then be able to choose a fertility treatment known as intracytoplasmic sperm injection, which directly injects a single sperm into the egg, said the researcher.

The study, which began in 2009, found SLeX on 70 percent of all the 195 unfertilised eggs tested. The eggs were donated by patients.

Researchers expect the discovery to be put into clinical use in two years.

Bureau Report

First Published: Saturday, August 27, 2011 - 09:25

More from zeenews

 
comments powered by Disqus