Mouse study shows 99% effectiveness

  • There are many forms of contraception for women, but only two for men.
  • The lack of the “pill” for men weighs heavily on women, who often have to deal with the side effects of contraceptives.
  • In new research, scientists have developed a male, non-hormonal birth control pill that was safe and effective in mice.

Scientists could be closer to developing the first non-hormonal male contraceptive pill after receiving promising results from animal studies.

The research papers presented on the American Chemical Society (ACS) Spring Meeting 2022. lays the groundwork for clinical trials to see if the contraceptive is effective in men.

There are many contraceptive methods available to women. However, these can occur in some women side effects. In contrast, there are two forms of male contraception: the male condom and vasectomy. Both have few notable side effects and serious complications are rare.

Consequently, women tend to bear the responsibility for contraceptive administration and suffer from the side effects of contraceptive use.

This burden could be addressed if scientists develop safe and effective male contraceptives.

“Despite advances in reproductive health, women are still forced to spend their reproductive years taking responsibility for contraception,” a British Pregnancy Advice Service (BPAS) spokesman said Medical news today.

“While vasectomies are available, we have seen a huge drop in funding for the procedure across the UK, with some areas severely restricting or defunding access for those who want it,” they said.

Female vs. Male Contraception

For over 100 years, contraceptive research has focused primarily on developing contraception that either prevents ovulation or makes it more difficult for sperm to enter the uterus. Meanwhile, more recent male birth control studies have fallen by the wayside because the side effects are judged to be too onerous – despite the prevailing expectation of what women are willing to endure to avoid pregnancy.
– The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS)

“Coupled with a lack of funding and research interest in male contraceptive methods, the bottom line is that few have seen the benefit — financial or otherwise — of working to provide reliable male contraceptives,” the spokesman said.

Professor Richard AndersonPh.D., Elsie Inglis Professor of Clinical Reproductive Science and Associate Director of the Center for Reproductive Health at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland MNT that research has been conducted on non-hormonal male contraceptives but has not resulted in an effective human contraceptive.

“The hormonal approach to male birth control is evolving, but men are producing millions of sperm every moment and that needs to be stopped entirely. There have also been some very promising approaches for a non-hormonal approach, but often these have not worked or there have been safety issues when the studies have progressed from the laboratory/animal models to humans,” said Prof Anderson, who is not involved with the was research.

MNT also spoke to Md Abdullah al-Nomana graduate student at the Institute for Therapeutics Discovery and Development at the University of Minnesota, who presented the research at ACS Spring 2022.

“Most female contraceptives target sex hormones like estrogen and progesterone. Efforts have been made to develop male birth control pills by targeting the male sex hormone testosterone. But that leads to side effects like weight gain, depression, elevated LDL levels, etc.,” he said.

Since men do not have to suffer from the consequences of pregnancy, the threshold for side effects of birth control pills is rather low. This is a major obstacle to the development of a male contraceptive. So we are trying to develop non-hormonal birth control pills to avoid hormonal side effects.
– Md Abdullah al-Noman

To achieve this, al-Noman and his colleagues conducted an experiment aimed at that Retinoic acid receptor alpha (RAR-α) protein in male mice.

RAR-α helps bind a type of vitamin A known as the retinoic acid which plays a role in sperm formation. By deactivating RAR-α, the researchers were able to render the mice sterile.

According to al-Noman, “Men produce about 1,500 sperm per heartbeat. This massive production of sperm requires vitamin A at various stages. But we also need vitamin A for many essential physiological processes.”

Al-Noman and his colleagues synthesized the compound YCT529 to inhibit the RAR-α protein.

“So we specifically blocked the effects of vitamin A in such a way that it reduced sperm production without affecting other functions of vitamin A to rule out side effects,” he said MNT.

Not only did the pill reduce sperm count in mice and prevent pregnancy with 99% effectiveness, but it did so with no observable side effects, he added.

“However, it is difficult to predict how the human clinical trial will proceed as this is the biggest hurdle for a drug candidate to demonstrate its safety and efficacy. We have licensed this candidate YourChoice Therapeuticsand they plan to bring it into clinical trials by the end of this year,” al-Noman said.

According to the BPAS spokesman, a safe and effective non-hormonal male contraceptive would ensure that men and women equally share the responsibility for contraception.

It’s not just about the benefit to men, it’s about ensuring that fertility and contraception are a shared burden and that women no longer have to spend most of their reproductive years avoiding pregnancy without their active partner.
– The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS)

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