A human trial for a birth control pill that is 99% effective for men will begin soon. Scientists at the University of Minnesota came up with the idea for this method of birth control.
According to the researchers, the method is 99% effective because it targets the way in which human bodies interact with vitamin A. The vitamin is known to be vital to the fertility of mammals. For instance, sterility has been connected to diets that are weak in vitamin A.
They searched for a very long time before finding an experimental drug that inhibits a protein known as retinoic acid receptor alpha (RAR-a). This protein is responsible for attaching to a type of vitamin A (retinoic acid) in human cells. The researchers had been looking for this substance.
RAR is one of three proteins that have a similar function. The aim is that its selective blockage will be sufficient to induce long-lasting. But, reversible sterility while generating little to no off-target consequences elsewhere. RAR’s function is identical to that of the other two proteins.
It has been a long and arduous journey to get here. However, there are other possible medicines for male birth control that are closer to completion. These drugs are now being tested in clinical studies. The majority of these potential treatments focus on testosterone, which may have unintended consequences. This includes increased cholesterol levels or a diminished desire to engage in sexual activity.
A human trial for a birth control pill that is 99% effective for men will begin soon
According to Md Abdullah Al Noman, the main researcher at the university and a graduate student in medicinal chemistry, the team from the University of Minnesota thinks that their medicine might be able to get around these problems. This might make it a more appealing option.
“The threshold for adverse effects from birth control pills is really low,” Noman said. “Since males do not have to endure the repercussions of pregnancy, the threshold for side effects from birth control pills is rather low.” Because of this, “we are trying to design birth control tablets that do not include any hormones in order to avoid the hormonal adverse effects.”
The substance, which we have designated GPHR-529, appears to be performing as anticipated up to this point. The research team observed that male mice that were dosed with the medication for a period of four weeks regularly had a severe decline in sperm count and were infertile.
These findings were reported on Wednesday at the spring meeting of the American Chemical Society. The overall effectiveness of GPHR-529 in preventing pregnancy was assessed to be 99%. Also, it was shown to have no discernible adverse effects.
In addition, the male mice were no longer infertile around four to six weeks after they stopped taking the medication. Other studies that they have conducted on animals have similarly demonstrated that suppressing RAR-should be both safe. It is also equally effective at producing temporary male sterility.
Testing the GPHR-529 Men’s Birth Control Pill further
Everything about this seems good so far. However, Noman emphasized that clinical trials are the most reliable method for determining whether or not a potential medicine is safe.
Since then, the team has licensed GPHR-529 to the business YourChoice Therapeutics for the purpose of further research. Therefore, if all goes according to plan, they intend to begin early-stage clinical studies in individuals by the latter part of this year.
The team from the University of Minnesota is also continuing their search for additional promising candidates. That is, both in preparation for the possibility that GPHR529 will not be successful. Also, and in an effort to improve upon their current concept. If they are successful, this would allow them to achieve the same contraceptive effect at a lower dose.
In other news, the male contraceptive gel known as NES/T is getting closer to being commercially available. This gel reduces the amount of sperm and natural testosterone in the body.
However, it also supplies the body with its own testosterone to mitigate the negative side effects. It is anticipated that a Phase IIb study of the gel on a bigger scale will be finished at the beginning of 2023. Nevertheless, more trials will be required for FDA clearance.
Possible adverse effects of the oral contraceptive pill for men
The male sex hormone known as testosterone is the focus of a number of the male contraceptive alternatives now being tested in clinical settings. This can produce a range of negative effects. This includes depression, weight gain and a rise in cholesterol levels.
According to Dr. Michael Eisenberg, a professor at Stanford who specializes in urology and male infertility, one of the challenges involved in developing an oral contraceptive for men is targeting the appropriate area of the reproductive system.
In an interview with Healthline, he said, “You have to discover a target. You want to make it particular to the reproductive system in some way, shape, or form. Also, and really not have any off-target effects.”
It is believed that the testis, in and of itself, is an immunoprivileged region. That being said, there are situations when it might be challenging to precisely focus a drug on that location.. The location of the testicles, along with the fact that human bodies have evolved mechanisms to produce sperm, places significant constraints on the kinds of substances that can enter that region.
“Of mice and men, and the vast chasm that separates them. It is difficult to get a mouse to answer questions regarding irritability or exhaustion, or other potential adverse effects that may appear in human research. Mills stated, “I am curious to see what the results of the human studies indicate.”
Available Birth Control Options for Men and Women
So far, abstinence, male condoms and vasectomy are the three methods of contraception that are available to males. The effectiveness of condoms varies, and each one can only be used once. Vasectomy is a surgical treatment, and reversing the effects of a vasectomy may be prohibitively costly or unsuccessful in some cases.
On the other hand, women have access to a wide variety of contraceptive methods. This includes pills, patches, rings, injections, and the intrauterine device (IUD).
“In women, there are plenty of barrier approaches since there are more alternatives in the female reproductive canal to either impede egg release or sperm transport. This means that there are a lot of different ways to prevent pregnancy from occurring.”
According to Dr. Jesse Mills, director of the Males’ Clinic at UCLA, “in men, you either have to snip sperm at the source with a vasectomy or seal the exit point with a condom.”
Per him, the lack of a male oral contraceptive is due in part to the potential for adverse effects. Also, due to the lack of interest on the part of males in using the medication.
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