Male con­tra­cep­tive pill step closer to real­ity

The Cairns Post - - NATION - SUE DUN­LEVY

THE quest for a male con­tra­cep­tive pill is back in busi­ness thanks to new fund­ing for a team of Aussie sci­en­tists who are on the cusp of de­vel­op­ing a drug that blocks the trans­port of sperm.

Sci­en­tists claim the hor­mone-free pill is set to by­pass side-ef­fects such as in­fer­til­ity, birth de­fects and li­bido.

Dr Sab Ven­tura from Mo- nash Univer­sity’s In­sti­tute of Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal Sci­ences says the drug may ac­tu­ally in­crease male li­bido.

If the next stage of drug de­vel­op­ment is suc­cess­ful, tri­als could com­mence and a male pill could be on the mar­ket within 5-10 years.

Pre­vi­ous at­tempts to de­velop a male con­tra­cep­tive have fo­cused on hor­monal tar­gets or on mak­ing sperm in­ca­pable of fer­til­i­sa­tion. meth­ods in­ter­fered with male sex­ual ac­tiv­ity and there was a risk of long-term ir­re­versible ef­fects on fer­til­ity.

Monash Univer­sity re­searchers are in­stead look­ing at us­ing chem­i­cals to switch off the brain sig­nal that causes sperm to be re­leased from the body. The sperm is there but the mus­cle is not re­ceiv­ing the chem­i­cal message to move it.

Dr Ven­tura says the $US150,000 grant from the Male Con­tra­cep­tive Ini­tia­tive in the US will al­low him to em­ploy a chemist to work on other chem­i­cals.

“Mice had nor­mal sex­ual be­hav­iour and the type of drugs we’re look­ing at may im­prove sex­ual func­tion in men be­cause they di­late blood ves­sels and that is what Vi­a­gra does,” he says.

The US con­sor­tium has also pro­vided grants to sev­eral other al­ter­na­tive male con­tra­cep­tion projects.

One of th­ese uses an in­jec­tion of a hy­dro­gel to block the move­ment of sperm.

Dr Ven­tura says he thinks men will want to take con­trol of their own fer­til­ity.


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