Coming: The pill for men

2010-09-05 09:16

And now, boys, brace yourselves for a new contraceptive pill for men.

But just hold on for now, it’s not ­going to be available immediately.

Tests have already been ­successfully carried out on mice, rats and rabbits at the University of the Western Cape’s medical bioscience department and at the University of Missouri in the US.

The research team, headed by ­Professor David Fisher, chairperson of the medical ­bioscience department at the University of the Western Cape, discovered that a ­molecule extracted from a plant and dubbed molecule X was 100% effective as a contraceptive in the males of the three animal species.

The extract can be found in the leaves of the European olive tree, the Dune olive tree and cloves.

Fisher said the molecule had no side effects. The contraceptive effect was immediate, with the only drawback being a three-month wait before ­fertility kicked in again.

The research is based on molecule X breaching or impairing the blood- testis barrier. The blood-testis barrier is a barrier between the blood vessels and seminiferous tubules where sperm is formed.

“My hypothesis is that if you can compromise the blood-testis barrier, you have an automatic way of providing contraception,” said Fisher.

He said when the barrier between the blood vessels and the site where sperm is formed was impaired, the formation of sperm was halted.

“Molecule X does exactly this,” he added.

There have been several hopeful but controversial male contraceptives ­invented across the world in the past two decades, but many are still in ­clinical trials. These include testosterone injections, gels, ultrasound heating and the spray-on condom.

Fisher said so far their research had not turned up any health risks usually associated with contraception.

Fisher and his team have not ­indicated when the male pill will be available to the public. They have yet to test it on humans.

“Only after we are satisfied that all toxicology reports are given a clean bill, will we embark on primate ­studies. This will be followed by clinical trials (on men),” said Fisher.

“However, in terms of all our foundation research, we have encountered nothing that indicates that it will not be successful in men,” he said.

But Dr Goolam Mohamed, a ­fertility specialist at Sandton Clinic, says he is sceptical about the research.

“In humans, if the blood-testis ­barrier is compromised, this produces sperm antibodies that can result in infertility. This is not reversible,” he warned. – West Cape News

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