The contraceptive doesn’t suppress any hormone, thus eliminating the side-effects of male hormone deficiency
Men in the near future may be able to share the burden of women in preventing unintended pregnancies — a successful experiment on mice gave hope.
So far, men only had the choice of wearing a condom or going for a vasectomy. If the experiment can be scaled up for humans, an on-demand, oral contraceptive may be possible for men.
The pill developed by scientists from universities in the United States immobilised sperm before, during and after sex in mice, according to the report published in the Nature Communications journal. The effect lasted for three hours and completely wore off in 24 hours, the findings published February 14, 2023 showed.
But the contraceptive doesn’t suppress any hormone, thus eliminating the side-effects of male hormone deficiency. Instead, the drug inhibited a cellular signalling protein called soluble adenylyl cyclase (sAC) that is essential for sperm motility and maturation, according to the authors of the report. This prevents the sperm from swimming, they said, adding:
A single dose of a safe, acutely-acting sAC inhibitor with long residence time renders male mice temporarily infertile.
“The global unintended pregnancy rate is about 50 per cent and it is even higher among adolescents in the United States,” the researchers wrote in the paper.
A man produces about 1,000 sperms per second, “and a male contraceptive strategy needs to be sufficiently effective to prevent millions of sperm from fertilising the oocyte,” the scientists wrote in the report. This has made it difficult to make new contraceptives for men, they added.
The researchers hope to hold the first trials on humans within three years, with a final product possibly up to eight years away, said study co-author Jochen Buck of Weill Cornell Medicine medical school that conducted the research.
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