Human sperm, illustration. Image Credit: Sebastian Kaulitzki/Science Photo Library via Getty ImagesHealth USA
Finally, a Birth Control Pill for Men to Take!
A team of researchers affiliated with Cornell University in New York, the United States, has tested the very first male contraceptive on mice with flying results as it is 100% effective without hindering fertility.
“This is, in the male contraceptive field, totally revolutionary,” says Jochen Buck at Cornell University. The drug could become the very first on-demand male birth control pill as it acts rapidly, temporarily, and is efficient at the first dose. And since the drug wears off after two hours, “we not only have an on-demand contraceptive, but one that is also rapidly reversible”, explains Melanie Balbach, also at Cornell University.
According to previous research, sperm need the soluble adenylyl cyclase (sAC) protein to move, meaning that men who don’t produce it are effectively infertile. Therefore, a drug inhibiting sAC has the potential to become a male contraceptive. To test this theory, researchers did a trial in two parts on mice. First, a sample of sperm was collected from 17 male mice – eight of whom received the drug – two hours after receiving their dose. In those who received the drug, 6% of sperm were mobile and in control mice, that proportion rose to 30%. The drug paralyzes sperm for about two hours, effectively preventing pregnancy. Second, 52 male mice were paired with females 30 minutes after the contraceptive drug was administered. Two hours of mating later, no pregnancies occurred, making the contraceptive 100% effective. The next step is to refine the drug, so it lasts longer before testing on humans. Clinical trials could start by 2025. “We need more [birth control] options, and men need an option so that the burden of contraception is not on females anymore,” says Balbach.