The Male Pill
mp3 | wma | wav

Birth control pillsWe recognize that women bear the bulk of the burden when it comes to birth control. One excuse for men is that they have few realistic options. In addition to condoms, the choice is either to abstain from sex or get a vasectomy.

That’s why scientists have been working for years on a male birth control method. One new approach may just work and focuses on a molecule called JQ1. Since only mature sperm cells can fertilize an egg, researchers use JQ1 to stop an immature sperm cell from maturing. The results with lab mice were impressive.

Normally for a sperm to mature, a protein called BRDT binds to specific areas on the genome that activate the genes necessary for the maturing of sperm. When researchers injected mice with JQ1, the small molecule bound to BRDT, preventing the protein from turning on the genes responsible for sperm maturation. The JQ1 treated mice had a ninety percent reduction in sperm count, and reduced motility leading to sterility.

This form of male contraception is still about a decade from being ready. JQ1 is currently injected but needs to be delivered in a way men can easily use. It also needs to be tested in humans to rule out long term negative effects, such as infertility or birth defects. Soon, men may be forced to share the responsibility of birth control - which a lot of women will say is about time!

For more information…


First non-hormonal male 'pill' prevents pregnancy

New Scientist overview of this new approach to male contraception.

Small-Molecule Inhibition of BRDT for Male Contraception
M. M. Matzuk, M. R. McKeown, P. Filippakopoulos et al. Cell, Volume 150, Issue 4, 673-684, 17 August 2012.
Original research article in the highly respected research journal, Cell. “A pharmacologic approach to male contraception remains a longstanding challenge in medicine. Toward this objective, we explored the spermatogenic effects of a selective small-molecule inhibitor (JQ1) of the bromodomain and extraterminal (BET) subfamily of epigenetic reader proteins. Here, we report potent inhibition of the testis-specific member BRDT, which is essential for chromatin remodeling during spermatogenesis.”

ANZAC Research Institute
ANZAC has projects on hormonal based male contraception. “The Department of Andrology is interested in researching all available avenues to help those men seeking fertility but also the development of safe effective male contraception”