A team of American scientists has developed an experimental drug that promises to be a «true revolution» in contraceptive methods for men. It is a compound that is taken between 30 minutes and an hour before having sexual intercourse and what it achieves ‘block’ sperm for several hours in order to avoid pregnancy. The treatment has already been successfully tested in mice and, according to its creators, paves the way for create a male birth control pill.
The drug is based on a cell signaling protein called soluble adenylyl cyclase (sAC). Previous studies had already pointed out that the suppression of this enzyme plays a key role in male fertility. An investigation in rodents, for example, I take advantage of the fact that the genetically modified animals to not have this protein they were infertile. Another experiment in mice also showed that samples that took treatments to temporarily inactivate this enzyme produced non-functional sperm. All these works provide a key clue for further research on the use of this protein.
After several years of hard work, a group of scientists from the Weill Cornell Institute in New York has succeeded in isolating this protein and design a strategy to supply controlled doses of this substance. The drug has been tested in a set of laboratory mice. First in the form of injection and later in the form of tablet. As published this Tuesday in the magazine ‘Nature Communications’, the treatment shown 100% effective in the first two hours after administration and 91% after the third hour. Within 24 hours, all of the rodents that had taken the drug had returned to their normal levels of fertility.
According to the experts who have led this investigation, the treatment It did not affect the mating of the animals nor to his ejaculation. Negative effects were also not observed in the specimens that took this compound continuously for six weeks.
The pill would be taken just before sexual intercourse, would take effect almost immediately, and wear off within 24 hours.
The creators of this drug affirm that they will continue testing its efficacy and safety in animal models and, in the meantime, they will also begin to lay the foundations for a future clinical trial in patients. If the studies are successful, this male contraceptive pill could be used in the future for men to take «everyday decisions about your fertility«.
«This work opens the door to the development of the first single-use male contraceptive pill»
Luz Candenas de Luján, scientist
«The interesting thing about this study is that the drug is going Targeted to a very specific enzyme of spermatozoa and, although there are other more widely distributed isoforms, I think they have hit the key», highlights Lujan Lujan, researcher in reproductive biology at the CSIC’s Chemical Research Institute. «This work opens the door to the development of the first single-use male contraceptive pilloffering an interesting alternative to the exclusive use of oral contraceptives in women», highlights the scientist in statements to the Science Media Center Spain.
Why are there still no contraceptives for men?
To understand the importance of this scientific advance, we must take a step back and ask ourselves why we still there are no contraceptive treatments for men. The explanation, far from being able to summarize in a single sentence, includes historical, social and scientific questions. In the fiftiesjust when the first studies started in search of a pill to avoid unwanted pregnancies, scientists have already raised the possibility of developing a drug for men. The first male contraceptive pill prototype was discarded because, despite showing good efficacy, its use was incompatible with alcohol intake.
Drugs to control women’s fertility have also met with a set of notable side effects but, even so, they pushed ahead and gave rise to the first generation of birth control pills. For decades, the search for birth control has focused almost exclusively on women. Currently, the Only Two Contraceptive Methods Targeted at Males have been male conservatives and vasectomy: the first, as an instant method with variable efficacy and the second, as a definitive method.
The search for a male pill has been renovated in recent years. Several experimental drugs have been developed to date to alter sperm production, but so far no projects have progressed to the final phase of clinical trials. In some cases, the experimental treatments they have failed because took several months to take effect (and several more to dissipate to regain normal fertility levels). In others, due to the large number of «adverse effects» detected during the studies. Just a few years ago, one of the most promising drugs was scrapped after noting «worrying symptoms» such as «irritability and mood swings» in men who took it.
He male contraceptive pill prototype Developed by Weill Cornell scientists, according to its own creators, it has the advantage that it could be taken just before having sexual intercourse, would take effect almost immediately and, in addition, it would disappear after only 24 hours. There is still a long way to go in research and clinical trials to verify the efficacy of this compound but, as explained by those responsible for this study, this type of work situates us Every time we are closer to be able to go to a pharmacy and ask for a contraceptive pill for men.