American Chemical Society presented their findings at the spring meeting on Wednesday where scientists announced the creation of a new non-hormonal male contraceptive pill that effectively prevents pregnancy in mice without obvious side effects.
According to the scientists, the Non-hormonal male contraceptive pill is 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancy in mice with no observed side effects. Human trials are set to begin, but some researchers warn that safety concerns could yet prevent the drug from reaching the market.
While women consume several pills and patches to help prevent pregnancies, men have only been subjected to the use of condoms which are prone to failure or irreversible, or Vasectomies surgical procedures which can potentially be reversed but are generally considered a permanent form of male sterilisation.
The reversal surgery is “expensive and not always successful”, the researchers said, showing the need for “an effective, long-lasting but reversible contraceptive, similar to the birth control pill for women.”
“Scientists have been trying for decades to develop an effective male oral contraceptive, but there are still no approved pills on the market,” Dr Abdullah Al Noman, who presented the work at the meeting, said.
Despite many attempts at making an effective and safe male contraceptive, no treatment has passed human clinical trials. Most have been based on hormones, but non-hormonal contraceptives tend to have fewer side effects, this is according to Md Abdullah al Noman at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.
“Safety is very important for birth control pills because people are not taking it for a disease, so they are less tolerant of side effects,” said Noman.
He and his colleagues gave male mice a daily dose of a molecule called YCT529 over a four-week period, and found that their sperm count plummeted. Between four and six weeks after the mice stopped receiving the treatment, they could reproduce normally again with no observable side effects.
“When we went to even 100 times higher dose than the effective dose, the compound didn’t show any toxicity,” said Noman,.
The team tested more than 100 molecules to identify a drug candidate that targets a protein called retinoic acid receptor alpha (RAR-α). Inhibiting this protein blocks the effects of retinoic acid, a derivative of vitamin A that plays an important role in cell development and sperm formation.
There are several compounds undergoing clinical trials but they target the male sex hormone testosterone, which could cause weight gain, depression and other side effects.
Forbes reported that several contraceptive methods for men are also in different stages of study, including a contraceptive gel that is rubbed on the shoulder daily, which is in clinical trials, and a method of preventing the movement of sperm by using an extract from a plant once used as a heart-stopping poison, for which studies are continuing