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Mark Shwartz, News Service (650) 723-9296;

Scientists discover key ingredient in sexual reproduction

A century-old mystery about sex finally appears to have been solved by a Stanford-led team of researchers.

Their discovery, reported in the journal Nature, could have wide-ranging implications for genetic research and the treatment of infertility.

The study focuses on the ultimate goal of sex -- fertilization.

When a sperm and an egg come together, something triggers the cascade of chemical events that eventually results in the development of an embryo.

"Since the turn of the century, people have wondered exactly how sperm-egg contact initiates development," says biologist David Epel.

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