Birth Control Pill for Men a Step Closer
If you are of the opinion that responsible birth control falls far too heavily on the female side of the intimacy equation, you may be interested in a development from the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy.
Researchers there believe they are moving closer to creating the world's first birth control pill for men, after identifying ways to make a number of promising drug candidates more suitable for the job.
There are quite a few conditions that would need to be met satisfactorily, if a male contraceptive is to be practical. The pill would need to be soluble -- allowing it to be taken orally -- and it would need to work quite quickly, without affecting a man's sex drive.
Men would need to be able to use the pill safely for a long time -- even decades -- and the effects on fertility would need to be reversible, with no negative impact on sperm or embryos, in the event users would one day want to start a family.
In experiments, the study team discovered that making certain tweaks to the compounds being tested could improve their suitability as a male contraceptive pill. For example, while investigating one compound that interacts with retinoic acid receptor-α (RAR-α), a protein involved in male fertility, they found that replacing an amide bond, or peptide bond, with ones that are known to mimic amide bonds improved the stability of the compound, meaning it would work for longer in the body.
However, replacing these bonds also lowered the ability of the compound to selectively target RAR-α.
Even so, the researchers believe they are making progress toward developing a male birth control pill, and they are continuing to tweak their compounds in order to achieve "the ultimate balance of solubility, specificity and stability."