'The Pill' for men: patience required
New research has shown a promising avenue for creating a male version of 'The Pill', but experts caution that an effective contraceptive agent for males will still be some years away.
Scientist have identified a compound that may offer the first effective and hormone-free birth control pill for men. In a study published in the journal Cell today, they show that the small molecule - dubbed JQ1 - makes male mice reversibly infertile without putting a damper on their sex drive. When the animals stop taking this new form of birth control, their sperm rebound and they are again able to sire perfectly healthy offspring.
"This compound produces a rapid and reversible decrease in sperm count and motility with profound effects on fertility," said James Bradner of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the lead author of the study.
"Ever since my wife gave birth to twins a year and a half ago, I've been taking a gram a day" Bradner joked in an interview - before clarifying that JQ1 was really just the first step in developing a safe contraceptive for men.
Prof Robert McLachlan, Director of Clinical Research at Prince Henry's Institute of Medical Research, told our colleagues at the AusSMC:
"It will be fascinating to see how the drug ( JQ1) evolves, but we know that such pipelines may require 15 years of evaluation and there are many potential pitfalls along the journey."
Read more about the research and further expert commentary on the SMC website.