A new male contraceptive could be a ‘sperm toggle’
Over time, they improved the TDI-11861. In rats, the drug did not seem to interfere with sexual performance or cause any side effects. And most importantly, 1 day later the sperm was normal again.
Of course, there’s a big caveat: Rats aren’t people. But humans also have the enzyme sAC, and in men it’s also involved in sperm movement. Buck and Levin are assured that this strategy can be safe for everyone because another group’s report from 2019, describes two infertile men with a genetic mutation that produces sAC. The other men were otherwise healthy, except for a higher risk of kidney stones. (Mice bred without this gene have elevated intraocular pressure, which is not a problem in mice without this gene.)
To test the compound’s safety, the Cornell University team continuously infused male and female mice through a pump for six weeks. They noted no side effects, including no kidney problems. They are now testing the compound in rabbits, whose reproductive organs are more similar to human reproductive organs.
Many attempts to create male contraceptives have used hormones—primarily testosterone—to suppress sperm production. But like hormonal contraceptives for women, these drugs can have a range of negative side effects, including mood swings, weight gain, and decreased sex drive. Both male and female hormonal contraceptives also take several weeks to be fully effective at preventing pregnancy. A trial sponsored by the National Institutes of Health is testing a hormonal gel for men are showing promising results, but this gel must be applied to the shoulder daily to keep sperm counts low enough for effective contraception.
Some men may prefer a temporary, non-hormonal option. “I think it’s a really cool idea and will be appreciated by a lot of people who might not want it,” said Gunda Georg, a professor of medicinal chemistry at the University of Minnesota who studies men. take medicine every day. and female contraceptives and do not engage in new work. “I think we need to have different options for contraception for both men and women.”
Georg’s Laboratory develop a drug without hormones, named YCT529, targets a protein called alpha retinoic acid receptor and is involved in sperm formation. In rats, it significantly reduced sperm count and was 99% effective at preventing pregnancy after being taken daily for four weeks.
While Buck and Levin are also working on creating a pill, these are less effective at delivering the drug than injections. The stomach tends to break them down, and Levin says their current version of the compound would need to be a sizable pill. The researchers formed a company, Sacyl Pharmaceuticals, to further refine their sAC inhibitors and put them into human clinical trials. “We’re trying to create a compound that can be a nice, small pill,” says Levin.
They also acknowledge that the current compound wears off too quickly, which can lead to an unwanted pregnancy if not taken at the right time, so they hope to extend its effectiveness to 18 hours or so. than. While there’s still a lot of testing ahead, if all goes well, it might play a role in future Valentine’s Days. “Perhaps, you could have this with dinner, and then within an hour, similar to Viagra, you’d be ready to have sex,” says Lindsey.