Prior to gamete fusion, sperm are able to bind and penetrate the ZP. Upon fertilization ZP hardening occurs. But in vitro, ZP hardening regularly occurs even without sperm binding, thereby preventing fertilization.
Women who cannot become pregnant naturally or who must not become pregnant at a specific time for medical reasons, e. g. cancer treatment, it is important to maintain the fertilizable state of an isolated oocyte. Experiments demonstrate that Fetuin-B plays an important role in the maturation of oocytes: It prevents premature hardening of ZP of oocytes after their isolation from a female body. The invention offers a solution to the problem of premature ZP hardening, i.e. adding Fetuin-B to fertilization media for in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures. Addition of Fetuin-B to such media will maintain fertility of oocytes after isolation from a woman and during preservation in a fertilizable stage for future processing and use.
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