A nose for ova

 
Published: Tuesday 28 February 1995

How do sperms find the ova? Solomon Snyder and his colleagues at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, say that the male sex cells virtually sniff out their female counterpart (New Scientist, Vol 145, No 1961).

The scientists found that rat sperms possess odour receptors, which are also present in the nasal cell lining.

Snyder believes that the receptors detect chemicals released by the ova and requisition the mitochondria -- the cell organelle that generates energy -- for the power to navigate the sperms towards the eggs.

The scientists claim that disabling the odour receptors could provide a means to develop a male contraceptive pill.

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