Fertility insights from worms
Worms and humans don’t seem like they’d share a lot of similarities, but you’d be surprised! Recently, worms have been extremely helpful to scientists studying Alzheimer’s, ALS, diabetes, cancer, and now, human fertility.
There’s a specific protein that’s found on the surface of both human and nematode worm sperm that helps the egg recognize the sperm, and the idea is that disrupting the functioning of this protein could prevent fertilization. Researchers found that worms with a mutation affecting this protein (called SPE-45, in worms) are sterile, but they can become fertile if the protein is expressed. They also found that the region of the protein that helps the sperm stick to the egg in worms is really similar to this region in humans.
This is interesting research, because it’s pretty amazing that researchers are learning about humans from worms! Hopefully, these worms will help researchers understand more about human fertility. It’s also possible that this research could help in the development of male birth control. Read more about it here.