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Science Proves Life Begins At Conception

Scientists had seen the phenomenon occur in other animals but it is the first time is has been also shown to happen in humans.

Conception

Science Proves Life Begins At Conception

Human life begins in bright flash of light as a sperm meets an egg, scientists have shown for the first time, after capturing the astonishing ‘fireworks’ on film.

Conception
A fluorescent flash captures the moment that sperm enzyme enters the egg Credit: Northwestern University

An explosion of tiny sparks erupts from the egg at the exact moment of conception.

Scientists had seen the phenomenon occur in other animals but it is the first time is has been also shown to happen in humans.

Sparks literally fly when a sperm and an egg hit it off. The fertilized mammalian egg releases from its surface billions of zinc atoms in “zinc sparks,” one wave after another, a Northwestern University-led interdisciplinary research team has found.

The bright flash occurs because when sperm enters and egg it triggers calcium to increase which releases zinc from the egg. As the zinc shoots out, it binds to small molecules which emit a fluorescence which can be picked up by camera microscopes.

Using cutting-edge technology they developed, the team is the first to capture images of these molecular fireworks and pinpoint the origin of the zinc sparks: tiny zinc-rich packages just below the egg’s surface.

 Eggs flash as they meet sperm enzyme, capturing the moment that life begins Credit: NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY
Eggs flash as they meet sperm enzyme, capturing the moment that life begins Credit: NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY

The study establishes how eggs compartmentalize and distribute zinc to control the developmental processes that allow the egg to become a healthy embryo. Zinc is part of a master switch that controls the decision to grow and change into a completely new genetic organism.

The researchers currently are working to see if they can correlate zinc sparks with egg quality, information that would be key to improving fertility treatments.

Not only are these new imaging techniques important for describing the zinc spark, they can be applied to other cells that likely use zinc in a similar way, but whose workings remain elusive due to the lack of sensitive and specific tools. This study lays the groundwork for understanding how zinc fluxes can regulate events in multiple biological systems beyond the egg, including neurotransmission from zinc-enriched neurons in the brain and insulin-release in the pancreas.

The National Institutes of Health, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (grant U54HD076188) and the W.M. Keck Foundation supported the research.

 

In a study published in Scientific Reports, Northwestern researchers have discovered that when the human egg is activated by a sperm enzyme, an explosion of zinc sparks erupt. The size of the eruption is directly related to the health of the egg and its ability to develop into a viable embryo.

Sources and Related Articles:

http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2014/12/stunning-zinc-fireworks-when-egg-meets-sperm.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/04/26/bright-flash-of-light-marks-incredible-moment-life-begins-when-s/

http://news.discovery.com/animals/sparks-literally-fly-when-sperm-connects-with-egg-141215.htm

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