A new study has shown that a bright flash of light occurs at the moment of conception, which strengthens the pro-life debate and also may contribute to the greater success of in vitro fertilization.
The Telegraph reports the study found that an explosion of tiny sparks erupts at the precise moment a sperm meets an egg.
This phenomenon was first observed in mice four years ago, but has now found to also be true in human reproduction.
Researchers from Northwestern University in Chicago undertook the study which also found that some eggs burn brighter at the moment of fertilization than others, which would suggest that these eggs are more viable.
This discovery could help doctors choose the best eggs to transfer during in vitro fertilization.
“It was remarkable,” said Professor Teresa Woodruff, one of the study’s two senior authors and an expert in ovarian biology at Northwestern.
“We discovered the zinc spark just five years ago in the mouse, and to see the zinc radiate out in a burst from each human egg was breathtaking,” she added.
“This means if you can look at the zinc spark at the time of fertilization, you will know immediately which eggs are the good ones to transfer in in vitro fertilization. It’s a way of sorting egg quality in a way we’ve never been able to assess before,” she added. “All of biology starts at the time of fertilization, yet we know next to nothing about the events that occur in the human.”
Fifty percent of eggs do not develop properly, so the added knowledge of which eggs are most viable is a discovery which can have a “transformative” impact on reproduction, according to co-author of the study, Dr. Eve Feinberg.
The flash of light occurs when sperm enters an egg, triggering a surge in calcium, which in turn triggers the release of zinc from the egg. The zinc then binds to small molecules which emit a fluorescent glow or spark.
The study was officially published on April 26 in Scientific Reports.
Publication date: April 27, 2016