Stories about: ion channels

Making sperm impotent

A patch-clamp recording captures the electrical activity of a single sperm cell.

It’s found only in the tails of sperm. It takes seven genes to build it. It gets activated as the sperm gets closer to the egg, giving it that extra whip and thrust to make it across the finish line.

David Clapham, its discoverer, named it CatSper. Blocking it could literally make sperm impotent. This could be the basis of a new contraceptive gel or a pill that could be used by men or women.

And that’s of interest to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. With the world’s population projected to reach 7 billion this year,

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