A step closer to a male birth control pill

For many years, scientists have attempted to formulate a male birth control pill, finally researchers at the University of Minnesota have made a significant breakthrough that may lead to a male contraceptive.

The announcement came at the 251st American Chemical Society National Meeting and Exposition in San Diego, US.

Previously tested compound testosterone causes infertility, however does not work on 20% of men tested, as well as causing side effects such as weight gain and a decrease in ‘good’ cholesterol said Jillian Kyzer, a graduate student working on the topic.

Gunda I. Georg, Ph.D and her team have turned their attention away from hormones and towards alpha, beta and gamma receptors in men, all in which determine fertility.

A study on animals has shown that despite a deficiency in the alpha receptor, used only for sperm production, animals remain healthy and normal. Recreating a similar treatment in humans could result in a male pill. The tests have been described as ‘promising’ providing no harmful side effects.

Professor Georg said: “It would have to be soluble so it could be taken by mouth. It would start working fairly quickly, and it wouldn’t diminish libido. It would be safe even if taken for decades. And because some users would eventually want to have children, its impact on fertility would be reversible, with no lingering ill effects on sperm or embryos.”

The group continues to refine the chemical structures to achieve the ultimate balance of solubility, specificity and stability as they aim to design a better male pill.

A survey by the Telegraph found that 52% of men said they would take a daily birth control pill if it was available.

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