Scientists at the Karolinska Institute in Huddinge, Sweden discovered that protein found in the coating of the mammalian eggs can become an obstacle to conception, the NewScientist reports. The protein called ZP3, takes part in conception and is essential in sperm binding. In other words, sperm needs to bind to ZP3 protein to get through the coating of the egg.
Researchers found that women who had defective ZP3 protein had difficulties to conceive. The mice engineered without this protein were also infertile.
Luca Jovine, the leading author of the study and his colleagues studied the chemical structure of ZP3 protein in mice with the help of X-ray crystallography. It is known that the structure of the mouse's ZP3 is similar to those of a woman. This gives important information about the protein properties, which can be used for the development of the female non-hormonal contraceptive pill.
The pill would work by binding to the ZP3 protein, to disrupt the formation of egg's coating and prevent fertilization.