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VA Discovers A Protein Essential To Fertilization, Bringing Us One Step Closer To Male Birth Control

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The discovery of a new protein involved in sperm-to-egg fusion proves to be a ground breaking find in the quest to create a male contraception drug . Researchers under Dr. John Herr of the University of Virginia Health System are breaking down what occurs on the molecular level during conception, publishing the findings of their study  in the journal Biology of Reproduction.

Along with other team members in his lab at UVA’s Center for Research in Contraceptive and Reproductive Health, Herr is getting to the root of the first moments of life. “This report expands our fundamental understanding of the molecular architecture at the site of sperm-egg fusion,” Herr said in a press release. “Understanding at the molecular level exactly how the sperm is able to combine with and enter the egg opens possibilities to identify molecules that can disrupt or block the fertilization event.”

Researchers have previously known that sperm contains enzymes to help it break into the egg, and when these enzymes are released in a process known as the acrosomal reaction, the sperm is allowed to merge with its target. When the acrosomal reaction begins, the sperm’s head is totally transformed, and a form of reshaping within the sperm begins that allows the sperm to penetrate the egg. When observing the reaction, Herr and his team found that a particular protein, which they identified as ESP1, stays in tact during this transformation process. Herr and his colleagues had discovered this protein within sperm 15 years prior to this study, and are intrigued to find that it remains while most other proteins are lost during the reaction.

As ESP1 is found to remain after the acrosomal reaction and is found in an area of the sperm head known to initiate egg-sperm fusion, this suggests that this protein is essential in stabilizing the area where the sperm will be fusing with the egg. “We suspect ESP1 is one of the key molecules that helps to stabilize the equatorial segment region of the sperm head,” Herr said.

What does this all mean? Herr and his colleagues have found a component that plays an essential role in allowing the sperm to penetrate the egg; if he and his team can figure out how to dismantle this protein, there is a chance of stopping fertilization.

While getting down to the nitty-gritty of every component and process essential to fertilization may seem confusing for us, Herr believes meticulous attention will end in success. “Getting at the molecular components of the fertilization event has a lot of practical applications — as well as intellectual value — because you want to account for all major components involved in the essential events of the fertilization cascade,” he said. “You want to know which molecules are located precisely where, and when, as the sperm head becomes remodelled prior to fertilization. Just getting all the molecules defined and dissected and located in their correct sub cellular positions is a major challenge, and this report adds to that fund of knowledge.”

As they see more evidence to support that ESP1 is involved in engaging with the egg membrane to permit fusion, researchers are now tasked with figuring out how to stop it from happening. The answer may lie within sugar molecules related to the ESP1 protein; Herr and his team believe that before the equatorial segment region condenses, these sugar molecules are being moved away. “The fundamental questions are, why does the equatorial segment stay intact after the acrosomal reaction? What molecular interactions contribute to its stability?”

For Herr, these discoveries spell out the beginning of what will hopefully result in a new and effective form of male birth control. “We don’t know enough yet about the protein-protein interactions here to be able to come up with a defined male contraceptive strategy so it’s pretty early in the process of seeing where a small molecule drug might interdict these interactions,” Herr said. “We need to figure out the other partner proteins with which ESP1 is interacting.”

Herr and his team have proven to be very capable, as his previous research helped create SpermCheck, an at-home fertility test now used by the masses.

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Show me the honey!

 

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Raw Honey is often referred to as “liquid gold” due to its highly therapeutic antibiotic, antifungal, antiviral, antiseptic, anti-aging and anticancer properties. Raw honey is not filtered, strained, or heated above 115 degrees Fahrenheit and provides far more benefits than regular honey as it is packed with active enzymes, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids that are essential for keeping the body health and for preventing illness and disease. Raw honey includes vitamins such as B-complex and Vitamin C as well as minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. Raw honey has the capability to strengthen the immune system, improve digestive health, reduce throat irritation, stabilize blood pressure, calm nerves, relieve morning sickness, balance blood sugar, heal ulcers, purify the blood, fend off colds and flu, soothe sore throats and laryngitis, and flush the kidneys. Raw honey is also great for digestion as it includes probiotics that assist to keep the beneficial bacteria in the gut healthy and strong. Raw honey also functions as a expectorant and is known to benefit respiratory conditions such as bronchitis and asthma. Raw honey promotes restorative sleep and can aid in healing and rebuilding the body during the night. Raw Honey is hygroscopic, which means it sucks all the moisture out of germs which ultimately destroys them. This is why raw honey is an excellent first aid cream and can be applied externally, like a natural neosporin, to cuts, abrasions, rashes, and sores to ensure the wounds sterile and quicken the healing process. Consider adding a teaspoon of raw honey to your lemon water and/or herbal tea everyday. It’s provides instant energy and great health benefits which can give you a much needed boost to your daily health routine.

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This new insulin patch could soon replace uncomfortable injections for diabetics

 

 

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A new ‘smart patch’ lined with painless micro-needles full of insulin has been developed by researchers in the US in an attempt to do away with the uncomfortable injections that have become a part of everyday life for the millions of type 1 diabetics around the world who need to manually regulate their hormone levels continuously.

The 4-cm patch features more than a 100 of these eyelash-sized micro-needles, and not only do they contain enough insulin to provide the same dosage as a single injection, but they also contain glucose-sensing enzymes that can identify when blood-sugar levels are too high and release the insulin into the blood stream. highly sophisticated and ingenious idea in my opinion.

“We have designed a patch for diabetes that works fast, is easy to use, and is made from nontoxic, biocompatible materials,” said on researcher, Zhen Gu, from the joint  University of North Carolina/NC State’s Department of Biomedical Engineering. “The whole system can be personalised to account for a diabetic’s weight and sensitivity to insulin, so we could make the smart patch even smarter.”

The patch has been tested in mouse models and so far, looks very promising. According to the paper published in the Proceedings of the National Department of Sciences, it has been able to regulate the insulin levels of diabetic mice for nine hours straight. And obviously mice are useless at monitoring their blood-sugar levels the way human diabetics have to right now, which shows just how hands-off and revolutionary this new system is.

This doesn’t just mean the patch will be a hell of a lot more convenient for its users than the injection system, it will also be far safer. As one of the team, John Buse,pointed out in a press release, getting your dosage wrong can lead to some of the worst outcomes you could imagine: “Injecting the wrong amount of medication can lead to significant complications like blindness and limb amputations, or even more disastrous consequences such as diabetic comas and death.”

The miniature system inside of the patch was built to mimic the body’s own insulin generators, known as beta cells. These highly specialised cells are responsible for both producing and storing insulin in little sac-like structures named vesicles. “We constructed artificial vesicles to perform these same functions by using two materials that could easily be found in nature,” said one of the team, Jiching Yu.

These substances, hyaluronic acid and 2-nitroimidazole, were combined to make a new type of molecule, one end of which loves water – hydrophilic – and the other is repelled by it – hydrophobic. When huge numbers of these molecules are mixed together, they automatically assemble into a vesicle structure, with the hydrophobic ends pointing inward and the hydrophilic ends pointing outward. The researchers inserted insulin and glucose-sensing enzymes into these vesticles.

When tested in the lab, the patch kicked into gear at the sign of increased blood sugar levels, and the excess glucose moved its way into the already-packed vesicles. The glucose was then converted into gluconic acid by the enzymes within, and the resulting lack of oxygen turned the hydrophobic 2-nitroimidazole molecules hydrophilic, which destroyed the structure of the vesticles and released the insulin. Absolutely amazing .

“The hard part of diabetes care is not the insulin shots, or the blood sugar checks, or the diet, but the fact that you have to do them all several times a day every day for the rest of your life”, said Buse. “If we can get these patches to work in people, it will be a game changer.”

The next stage will be to get the patch into clinical trials so it can hit the market, and to advance the technology so it will last several days, rather than several hours. We can’t wait.