They've learned for the first time how the embryo sticks to the uterine wall. Lead researcher Dr. Susan Fisher says special molecules play a critical role.
"Our discovery may prevent a miscarriage because it will help the embryo better stick when its implanted in a woman's body," says Dr. Susan Fisher of UCSF, Professor of Stomatology.
Dr. Fisher also says that timing is everything. It's like a puzzle: the molecules found on the surface of the uterus for only a short time during a woman's cycle and a special protein coating on the embryo must hook up with those molecules for a woman to get pregnant.
Fisher says in the future it may be possible to coat embryos with the special molecule so it will stick better to the uterine wall and increase the odds of a successful pregnancy. Experts say much more research is needed before a potential treatment is developed.
Ironically, the new research may also help develop contraceptives that are not based on hormones like the pill, but would instead block the embryo from sticking to the wall of the uterus.