A non-hormonal male contraceptive pill was 99% effective in mice and did not cause any observable side effects.
Women, rejoice! Men might finally start to share the burden of preventing unwanted pregnancies. Recently, scientists at the University of Minnesota developed a non-hormonal male contraceptive pill that demonstrated successful results in mice. The team presented their findings in the spring meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS).
According to the press release, the oral contraceptive targets a protein called the retinoic acid receptor alpha (RAR-α). The protein belongs to a family of three nuclear receptors that bind to retinoic acid in the body and helps in cell growth and sperm formation. Previous attempts at targeting all three receptors had caused reversible sterility in male mice. However, the team at University of Minnesota wanted a drug with no unwanted side effects. Therefore, they stuck with targeting just a single receptor.
The team designed and synthesized approximately a hundred compounds, until they settled on YCT529. It managed to inhibit RAR-α 500 times more potently than the other two receptors. In the animal study, researchers administered an oral dose of the compound to male mice for a total of four weeks. The compound helped decrease sperm counts in the mice and was 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. Furthermore, 4-6 weeks after stopping the compound, the mice could once again father pups.
Although it is not possible to measure side effects such as headaches or mood changes in the mice, scientists did monitor them for any weight or appetite changes and overall activity. And found no observable side effects.
Future of Male Contraceptives
The team now plans to conduct human clinical trials of YCT529 and explore further compounds with similar activity.
Although it could likely be years till the pills are available in stores, researchers are encouraged by the results. In recent years, doctors have explored several different male contraceptive options ranging from Chinese herbs to magnetic nanomaterials. Advent of the various male contraceptives will greatly help men share some of the burden of preventing pregnancy.
Source: American Chemical Society