The constant developments in medicine can be astounding at times, which was proven recently over the past two years with the COVID-19 vaccine.
Now scientists are preparing to introduce a new form of birth control for males, which has so far been 99% effective in preventing pregnancy amongst lab rats.
The American Chemical Society revealed earlier today that scientists would be reporting on a non-hormonal male contraceptive at the ACS Spring 2022 meeting that’s being held both virtually and in-person from March 20-24. The event is expecting more than 12,000 presentations on a variety of science topics, and today researchers presented their results on the new male birth control option being referred to as YCT529.
More on their findings below, via ACS:
“To develop their non-hormonal male contraceptive, the researchers targeted a protein called the retinoic acid receptor alpha (RAR-α). This protein is one of a family of three nuclear receptors that bind retinoic acid, a form of vitamin A that plays important roles in cell growth, differentiation (including sperm formation) and embryonic development. Knocking out the RAR-α gene in male mice makes them sterile, without any obvious side effects. Other scientists have developed an oral compound that inhibits all three members of the RAR family (RAR-α, -β and -γ) and causes reversible sterility in male mice, but Georg’s team and their reproductive biology collaborators wanted to find a drug that was specific for RAR-α and therefore less likely to cause side effects.
So the researchers closely examined crystal structures of RAR-α, -β and -γ bound to retinoic acid, identifying structural differences in the ways the three receptors bind to their common ligand. With this information, they designed and synthesized approximately 100 compounds and evaluated their ability to selectively inhibit RAR-α in cells. They identified a compound, which was named YCT529, that inhibited RAR-α almost 500 times more potently than it did RAR-β and -γ. When given orally to male mice for 4 weeks, YCT529 dramatically reduced sperm counts and was 99% effective in preventing pregnancy, without any observable side effects. The mice could father pups again 4-6 weeks after they stopped receiving the compound.”
In layman’s terms, this means that women could potentially no longer bear the main burden when it comes to preventing unwanted and/or premature pregnancy. Even though their options exceed that of males by a handful, it still would be nice for the fellas to be able to help out once in a while as well.
So far, plans for human clinical trials are scheduled to begin in either the third or fourth quarter of 2022. According to Gunda Georg, Ph.D., a lead researcher in the trial at the University Of Minnesota, the genetic differences between rodents and humans is leading them to try other options. She states, “Because it can be difficult to predict if a compound that looks good in animal studies will also pan out in human trials, we’re currently exploring other compounds, as well.”
We’ll keep an eye on this developing story, but in the meantime let us know your thoughts: should males take equal responsibility as women in preventing pregnancy by taking a new form of birth control? Sound off!
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