A non-hormonal birth control pill for men 99% effective on mice

Research, omitted by pharmaceutical laboratories, trampled water. Until a team of scientists on Wednesday announced that they had developed a male contraceptive pill that is 99% effective in mice without causing visible side effects.

These findings, to be presented at the Spring Conference of the American Chemistry Society, mark an important step for male contraception, which remains very marginal among couples.

Also read: Contraception for men is entitled to a new attempt

Confidential practice

The search for a birth control pill for men goes as far back as the permit in the 1960s of its equivalent for women, Md Abdullah Al Noman, a master’s student at the University of Minnesota, told AFP. , who will present this work at the conference.

“Many studies show that men are interested in sharing the responsibility for contraception within the couple,” he says, but there are only two effective and recognized solutions to date: condoms and vasectomy – a lasting solution where it is sometimes complicated ( and expensive)) to come back. Other practices, such as heated panties and the ring around the testicles, remain confidential and are not validated by health authorities.

The function of the female pill is based on hormones that disrupt the menstrual cycle. Researchers have long tried to develop a male equivalent by using the same method and acting on a male hormone, testosterone.

The chronicle of the novel: Male contraception: “I practice the mechanical lifting of the testicles”

However, these trials caused unwanted side effects such as weight gain, bouts of depression and increased cholesterol levels, increasing the risk of heart disease.

A chemical compound called YCT529

To develop a non-hormonal pill, Md Abdullah Al Noman, who works in Professor Gunda Georg’s laboratory, targeted a protein, the retinoic acid receptor alpha (RAR-alpha). In the human body, vitamin A is converted into many elements, including retinoic acid, which plays an important role in cell growth, sperm formation and embryonic development.

Retinoic acid needs these RAR-alpha receptors to work: laboratory tests have shown that mice deprived of the gene encoding this receptor are sterile.

For its work, this laboratory has developed a compound that blocks the action of RAR-alpha. The researchers used a computer model to identify the best possible molecular structure. Their chemical compound, called YCT529, was designed to interact only with RAR-alpha, and not with two other neighboring receptors, RAR-beta and RAR-gamma, to limit side effects.

The article from August 17, 2012: New hope for male contraception

Orally administered to male mice for four weeks, YCT529 drastically reduced sperm production and was 99% effective in preventing pregnancy, with no side effects observed. And six weeks after stopping taking YCT529, the mice were able to reproduce again.

Commercialization is expected within five years

The team, funded by the U.S. Institutes of Health (NIH) and non-profit Male Contraceptive Initiative, is working with YourChoice Therapeutics to begin clinical trials in the second half of 2022, said Professor Gunda Georg.

“I think it can move fast forward,” she said, estimating that commercialization could happen within five years. “There is no guarantee of success … But I would be really surprised if I did not also see an effect on people.”

Studies have shown that the majority of women would be willing to trust their partner for this responsibility, and a significant number of men have reported being willing to take birth control pills. “Men’s contraception will add to existing choices and will allow men and women to choose the method of contraception that seems most appropriate to them,” the Male Contraceptive Initiative welcomed.

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