SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Scientists have made progress in helping men eventually have more choices regarding birth control.
During this year’s spring meeting of the American Chemical Society, scientists presented a report on a compound named YCT529 that prevents pregnancies in mice without evident side effects.
To develop the contraceptive, researchers targeted several proteins: the retinoic acid receptor alpha, which is one of a family of nuclear receptors that bind retinoic acid, and a form of vitamin A, which plays significant roles in cell growth differentiation, including sperm formation and embryonic development.
After close examinations, researchers designed and synthesized numerous compounds and calculated their ability to selectively inhibit the retinoic acid receptor alpha. The compound YCT529 greatly reduced sperm count.
According to Dr. Gunda Georg, of the University of Minnesota, if the researchers get approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), human clinical trials on YCT529 could begin in the third or fourth quarter of this year.
However, researchers are also continuing to explore other compounds in hopes of finally bringing an oral male contraceptive to reality.
Some may wonder why the wait is longer for a male birth control pill. According to Dr. Abdullah Al Noman, of the University of Minnesota, there have been efforts to develop a male birth control pill by targeting the male sex hormone — testosterone. However, this leads to side effects, such as weight gain, depression and increased risk for cardiovascular diseases.
Dr. Noman believes that since men don’t have to choose between pregnancy and the side effects, they are less willing to take a birth control pill that has such significant side effects.
According to the FDA, there are currently only two forms of birth control for men: male condoms and sterilization surgery, also known as vasectomy.
For more information about YCT529, view this video from the American Chemical Society.