There's been a breakthrough in the search for a male contraceptive drug. New research shows that there is a compound that was able to slow down the sperm of monkeys without having any hormonal side effects.
While a male contraceptive drug is a step closer, this new finding doesn't mean it'll be on the market in the next few years.
Male Contraceptive Drug
Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Oregon National Primate Research Center published a study in the journal PLOS ONE showing that the compound EP055 slowing down sperm without hormonal effects. They used rhesus macaques for the study. The macaques were given EP055 intravenously.
Scientists found that EP055 is able to inhibit the sperm's mobility, which reduces how effective it is in the process of fertilization
For the study, the macaques were given a high dose of the EP055 compound. Thirty hours later, scientists at the Oregon National Primate Research Center found that the sperm was not moving at the normal speed and saw that the macaques had no physical side effects from the compound.
Eighteen days after the macaques were given the EP055 infusion, they all showed signs of a complete recovery. This could be a sign that taking the EP055 compound as a form of birth control may be reversible. Macaques began recovering mobility in their sperm 78 hours after the EP055 was introduced.
Scientists say that more work is needed before the compound could be tested on human subjects. Currently, the only forms of male contraception available to men include condoms and surgical vasectomy.
How Does It Work?
EP055 works by attaching itself to the protein EPPIN, which is found on the sperm. Lead author on the study Michael O'Rand told Newsweek that this compound could provide men with a non-hormonal male contraceptive drug. He says that the compound allows sperm to continue to be produced.
Previous studies have researched the potential of blocking EPPIN as a way to create male contraception. A 2008 study concluded that EPPIN should be targeted because of its location on the surface of human sperm. Studies showed that targeting EPPIN could reduce the total distance traveled by sperm, its ability to travel in a straight line, and its speed.
There have also been other compounds such as H2-gamendazole, which has been studied by scientists at the University of Kansas and the University of Minnesota. It targets sperm in a different way. H2-gamendazole prevents sperm from maturing properly.