Monday, January 31, 2005


"When Resarchers Wanted to Better Understand Men..They Decided to Look at Pond Scum..."

University of Massachusetts scientists have teamed up with a Norwegian company, SpermaTech, to create a male birth control pill some 50 years after the development of the female pill (The Pill). The approach involves turning off the tails of sperm that allow the sperm to swim to a woman's egg for fertilization.

"When researchers at the foundation, its scientific operations merged with UMass in 1997, wanted to better understand how they might be able to prevent men from reproducing, they decided to look at pond scum. Algae are propelled through water by flagella, microscopic engines of locomotion. And, it turns out, sperm use similar structures for movement, said George B. Witman III, a UMass cell biologist. For many years, people probably wondered why we were interested in studying pond scum," Witman said. 'Pretty much anybody studying male sperm would acknowledge the debt we owe green algae. When you get down to the cellular level, the building blocks are essentially the same.' "

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