Scientists create male pill that can prevent sperm from swimming to the egg

Researchers have succeeded in temporarily inhibiting the enzyme responsible for sperm motility, laying the groundwork for a non-hormonal male pill whose effect is reversible after a few hours.

A team of scientists managed to discover a “switch” capable of “turning off” the movement of sperm, preventing them from swimming into a woman’s egg and thus preventing fertilization during sexual intercourse. The study, which envisions a prototype male pill based on this discovery, has now been published in the journal Nature Communications, and if clinical trials continue to prove effective, a male pill could soon become a reality.

This pill has been successfully tested on mice and contains no hormones, unlike the female pill. Scientists point out that this will, precisely, be an advantage of this contraceptive, as it will not interfere with testosterone levels or cause side effects due to a deficiency of the male hormone.

The scientists’ idea, the BBC points out, is that users can take a pill about an hour before intercourse. The pill’s effect will be temporary: tests on mice have shown that sperm are disrupted for only a few hours, and that the pill’s effectiveness wears off after a day. This is because the scientists were able to temporarily inhibit the function of an enzyme necessary for sperm motility, soluble adenylate cyclase.

According to the study, which was funded by the US government’s biomedical and public health research agency (US National Institutes of Health), a dose of the drug, called TDI-11861, immobilized sperm before, during during and after sex. mating of mice.

One of the researchers involved in the study, Melanie Balbach, vouches that it is a promising, reversible and easy-to-use contraceptive. It will now be tested on rabbits before researchers move on to human clinical trials: if successful, men will be able to take the pill whenever they need it and want it, even though this contraceptive does not protect against sexually transmitted infections, like the female. pill.

“If the mouse trials are replicated in humans with the same level of effectiveness, then this could well be the contraceptive approach we’ve been looking for,” Alan Pacey, professor of andrology at the University of Sheffield, told the BBC.

“The approach described here, eliminating a key enzyme in sperm that is critical for its movement, is a really novel idea. The fact that it can work and be reversible so quickly is really exciting,” summarized the expert.

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