A research published in journal Cell shows a small molecule that can help in birth control in men has been identified by researchers.
For years scientists have been trying to find a safe and effective birth control pill for men but have failed. This could be the first non-hormonal male contraceptive pill and its effects are easily reversible so there is low risk of infertility.
In studies conducted on mice, mice treated with this molecule compound had lower sperm counts than mice not treated with it. Also their sperm swam slower than others. The good part is the mice showed low fertility but their desire for mating was not affected in any way. Also, the sperm counts became normal soon after the treatment was stopped.
Researcher James Bradner, MD, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute says the next step is to develop a more selective version of the molecule which is fit for human use. He said, “It will take some creative chemistry to make this happen, but I think we are up to the challenge.”
The compound was developed as potential cancer treatment but it also targeted another protein associated with tumour growth. Soon the drug will be tested on cancer patients, where the researchers will get some basic ideas whether the new approach will work or not. Another team from Dana-Farber is also working on a drug that specifically works on sperm inhibition. According to them the more specific a drug, the safer it is.
Until now, the research on male contraceptive revolved around manipulating sex hormones, however that approach has proven to be challenging. Dr William J. Bremner, MD, PhD, of the University of Washington School of Medicine says he is optimistic that new birth control options for men are on the horizon, but a non-hormonal male pill is, at best, several years away.