SURF

Natalie Petersen

Identifying Triterpene Derivatives for a New Generation of Non-Hormonal Contraceptives

According to a 2013 National Health Statics Report, 30% of American women discontinue using hormonal methods of birth control within their first year of use due to side effects. Conventional steroid-based contraception comes with a variety of side effects, such as anxiety, depression, and weight gain, and therefore creates a demand for non-hormonal contraceptive with minimal side effects. Sperm cells have a specific set of molecular targets, increasing the possibility of developing a contraceptive with high specificity and low side effects. Our preliminary data indicate that sperm motility and their ability to fertilize an egg could be prevented by targeting sperm surface protein ABHD2 with plant-derived compounds know as triterpenes. ABHD2 is a regulator of the sperm-specific calcium channel CatSper that is essential for sperm fertility. Working in the Lishko Lab this summer, we will explore the function of the related triterpenes to identify compounds that inhibit CatSper through ABHD2 and to develop a prototype for a new generation of non-hormonal contraceptives.

Message to Sponsor

This fellowship was the experience of a lifetime and I feel so lucky to have been able to learn such incredible things this summer. To the Rose Hills Foundation, I can't thank you enough. What you have done for me and are continuing to do for future students is truly amazing. Coming out of this experience I have a deepened respect for the research process and for the people who themselves dedicate their lives to it. With all the work I have done this summer, I hope to continue with the project and eventually publish. Thank you so much for this wonderful experience!
  • Major: Molecular Cellular Biology
  • Sponsor: Rose Hills Experience
  • Mentor: Polina Lishko