A plant-derived contraceptive that may replace the pill

by Beatrice Credi - 2017.05.19

The Far East offers what could be a new and natural contraceptive method. It is called Lives of the god of thunder (léi gōng téng in Mandarin) and is a Chinese plant whose anti-conception qualities have been analysed by a team of American researchers. In a study recently published in the magazine PNAS, the researchers have discovered how one of its substances can prevent sperm from fertilising an egg. The mechanism is fascinating. Various chemical reactions occur during the end phase of the sperms journey to the egg cell that accelerate the movements of the sperm tails in view of the “piercing” of the gelatin lining of the egg cell. This change in rhythm is down to a protein called ABHD2 that if neutralised makes insemination impossible. Nadja Mannowetz, a molecular biologist and head of the team, stated that the tests have only just started but the substances in this climbing plant may be used in days to create a hormone-free pill.

Published in Birth and fertility.
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