Compound may lead to first Pill for men

TEXAS A&M (US) — A compound originally used for anti-cancer treatments appears to be effective in controlling fertility in male mice.

Researchers say the compound called JQ1 acts as an inhibitor to both sperm production and sperm mobility.

“Both of these are needed for fertility, but JQ1 prevents both,” says Qinglei Li, an assistant professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M University. “It stopped the sperm production very dramatically.

“More good news is that there appear to be no side effects whatsoever. Once the JQ1 was no longer given to the mice, they were back to their normal reproduction rates, and it did not affect mating behavior or the health of the offspring.”

Li worked with Martin Matzuk at Baylor College of Medicine, who led the research and James Bradner at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, who made the discovery. The team’s work is is published in the journal Cell.

Though the mice were given injections, the team believes that a pill could eventually be developed with the same results. A male contraceptive pill has been talked about for decades, but so far none has been successfully created despite a strong demand. Recent studies have shown that about 70 percent of men would be willing to take a birth control pill if it were available.

A drawback to many female contraceptives is that they sometimes interfere with hormones, especially estrogen. But Li says the team is confident that JQ1 does not affect testosterone levels in men, and appears to have no other side effects.

“This is an exciting step in male contraception,” Li says. “A compound with more specificity will be needed before clinical trials can be done for humans. It does not mean a male birth control just yet, but it is a great step forward in that direction.”

Source: Texas A&M University

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