Zinc Sparks from egg cells can unveil particular set of eggs can be used in IVF

Zinc Sparks from egg cells can unveil particular set of eggs can be used in IVF

Eggs of many mammals during the time of conception release a pulse of metallic ions when they undergo cellular change. For the first time, scientists have seen the spark emitted from human eggs during conception process. This project could help in improving IVF success rates as medical experts will be able to choose better eggs for the in-vitro fertilization process.

Now, researchers at Northwestern University (NU) are exploring the potential of these sparks produced by egg cells when they come in contact with sperm enzyme as whether they are fit for in-vitro fertilization (IVF).

Study’s lead researcher Teresa Woodruff along with a team of scientists has studied zinc fireworks. Professor Woodruff explained that zinc sparks can help know whether a particular set of eggs are ideal candidates to be used in an IVF.


The researchers activated egg cells by injecting them with a sperm enzyme that led to increase in calcium in the eggs. It also led zinc to be discharged. The research team first noticed the zinc spark in a mouse model, but observing them in human eggs cells was a breakthrough event.

Upon the release of zinc content from an egg, the substance tends to bind itself to small molecule probes. These probes are being observed by researchers using fluorescence microscopy. Study’s co-author Tom O'Halloran said that previous fluorescence microscopy experiments has confirmed that zinc sparks do take place in human eggs.

Study’s co-author Eve Feinberg mentioned, “This is an important discovery because it may give us a non-invasive and easily visible way to assess the health of an egg and eventually an embryo before implantation”.

The researchers said that for now, they do not have any viable tool that could help them find out of an egg cell or embryo is a viable candidate for fertilization. Owing to which, the zinc sparks can help in determining whether the eggs is of good quality.


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