The latest iteration of the male contraceptive pill is expected to enter clinical trials by the end of 2022 after demonstrating a very promising 99% efficacy among mice and – in stark contrast to the female contraceptive pill – no “observable side effects.”
The non-hormonal oral treatment has been developed by researchers at the University of Minnesota, which targets how the body interacts with vitamin A (essential to fertility in mammals). Essentially, after a lengthy search process, they discovered an experimental compound capable of blocking protein responsible for binding a type of vitamin A in our cells, known as retinoic acid recept alpha (RAR-α).
When administered to male mice across four weeks, the experimental compound drastically reduced sperm counts and prevented pregnancy. Weight, appetite, and overall activity weren’t impacted in the slightest, although there’s no way of telling whether headaches or mood changes are on the card at this stage. Four to six weeks after being taken off YCT529, the mice were no longer sterile and could successfully breed once again.
“Multiple studies showed that men are interested in sharing the responsibility of birth control with their partners,” explains Md Abdullah al Noman, University of Minnesota graduate student – but until now, the only effective options available have been condoms or vasectomies.
“If we know what the keyhole looks like, then we can make a better key – that’s where the computational model comes in.”
“I’m optimistic this will move forward quickly,” says Professor Gunda Georg.
“There is no guarantee that it will work… but I would really be surprised if we didn’t see an effect in humans as well.”
According to Professor Gunda Georg, this YCT529-based male contraceptive pill could hit the market within five years.
The team has received funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Male Contraceptive Initiative, currently working alongside a company called YourChoice Therapeutics. Clinical trials are expected to kick off sometime by the third or fourth quarter of 2022. Hopefully proving to be a viable alternative to being gloved, snipped, and of course, whatever timing-based methods all the cowboys out there choose to leverage.
City boys up.