No babies, no hormones

RNA may someday replace 'the pill'

10:00am, June 12, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO — Poor sperm. After swimming tirelessly to find an egg to fertilize, they may find no place to grab hold, if scientists succeed in creating a new form of hormone-free contraception.

In a new study, researchers infused mouse cells grown in the lab with small, customized RNA molecules. These RNAs prevented the cells from making a protein coating that normally envelops egg cells, the scientists announced June 11 in San Francisco at the Beyond Genome conference.

Sperm must bind to this protein coating before they can enter the egg and fertilize it, so eggs without the coating can't be fertilized.

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