WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Scientists developed a male oral contraceptive that presented no observable side effects.
- The birth control pill was also described to be 99 percent effective in mice.
- The pill’s effect is only temporary as the mice were able to produce offspring four to six weeks after the drug was administered.
Scientists developed a male oral contraceptive that presented no observable side effects and was 99 percent effective in mice. This experimental drug is expected to enter human trials by the end of this year.
This development is more than an addition to birth control options but is also a step toward including the male population in bearing responsibilities for birth control. Findings from this research are scheduled to be presented at the American Chemical Society’s spring meeting.
Md Abdullah Al Noman, a Ph.D. student at the University of Minnesota who will present the findings, told AFP that researchers have been interested in male contraceptives ever since the female birth control pill was first approved in the 1960s.
“Multiple studies showed that men are interested in sharing the responsibility of birth control with their partners,” he said.
However, until now, male birth control options available are limited: condoms or vasectomies.
The female birth control pill introduces estrogen and/or progestin to disrupt ovulation. Those intending to develop a male counterpart targeted the male hormone called testosterone. The problem with this approach, however, was that it caused side effects such as weight gain, depression, and increased levels of low-density lipoprotein or “bad” cholesterol.
The female pill also carries side effects, but the calculation for potential danger in females is different.
Professor Gunda Georg studied a protein called “retinoic acid receptor (RAR) alpha” to develop non-hormonal contraceptives for males.
Vitamin A (as retinol or retinoic acid) plays an important role in cell growth, sperm formation, and embryo development. Professor Georg and the research team developed a compound that could stop retinoic acid from binding with RAR-alpha.
“If we know what the keyhole looks like, then we can make a better key – that’s where the computational model comes in,” said Noman.
The compound developed is called YCT529. To control potential side effects, the compound was designed to interact only with RAR-alpha and not with other RAR receptors (RAR-beta and RAR-gamma)
The experimental model using mice demonstrated that YCT529 reduced sperm count and was 99 percent effective as a male oral contraceptive. For potential side effects, researchers monitored weight, appetite, and overall activity, and reported no apparent adverse effects.
The best part is that the effect is not permanent. The mice produced offspring again four to six weeks after the drug was administered.
“Male contraceptives will add to the method mix, providing new options that allow men and women to contribute in whatever way they deem appropriate to contraceptive use,” the Male Contraceptive Initiative said.
Male Contraceptive Initiative is a non-profit organization that campaigns and raises funding for research & development of new male birth control methods.
Source: Science Alert