Male contraceptive pill could increase libido
THE quest for a male contraceptive pill is back in business thanks to new funding for a team of Aussie scientists who are on the cusp of developing a drug that blocks the transport of sperm.
Scientists claim the hormone-free pill is set to bypass side-effects such as infertility, birth defects and libido that have the hindered the development of a male contraceptive.
And Dr Sab Ventura from Monash Universityâ€™s Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences says a selling point is that the drug may actually increase male libido.
If the next stage of drug development is successful, trials could commence and a male pill could be on the market within 5-10 years.
Previous attempts to develop a male contraceptive have focused on hormonal targets or on making sperm incapable of fertilisation.
These methods interfered with male sexual activity and there was a risk of long-term irreversible effects on fertility.
Monash University researchers are instead looking at using chemicals to switch off the brain signal that causes sperm to be released from the body. Their previous research has shown that you can produce infertility in mice by genetically deleting two proteins that trigger the transport of sperm â€" Îą1A-adrenoceptor and P2X1-purinoceptor.
The sperm is there but the muscle is not receiving the chemical message to move it.
There is already a widely-available drug approved for long-term use that targets one of the two proteins linked to the movement of sperm.
Flomax is used to treat older men having difficulty going to the toilet.
The researchers are now looking to develop a drug to block the second protein before combining the two in a single pill.
Dr Ventura says the $US150,000 grant from the Male Contraceptive Initiative in the US will allow him to employ a chemist to work on other chemicals to block the second protein.