Birth control pill for men could become a reality

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Other than vasectomy,  sexual abstinence or condoms that sometimes fail, there have been no birth control options for men. Researchers think they may have discovered  a compound that means a male contraceptive pill could become a reality. The news is good for women who have had the primary responsibility in the birth control arena. 

Researchers from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Baylor College of Medicine report in the  Aug. 17 issue of the journal Cell that they’ve used a compound called JQ1 in male mice to create a form of birth control that seems to have no ill effects.

”Our findings demonstrate that, when given to rodents, this compound produces a rapid and reversible decrease in sperm count and mobility with profound effects on fertility,” said Dana-Farber’s James Bradner, MD, the paper’s senior author in a press release.

J-Q1 was named for the lead chemist, Jun Qi, PhD, in the Bradner laboratoryThe compound was originally developed to block a gene that causes cancer, called BRD4.

The researchers wanted to find out if JQ1 would have an effect on BRD4. Earlier research showed mice given the compound were infertile, leading the scientists to investigate the compound’s effect on male fertility.

It turns out that J-Q1 interferes with sperm production and quality, making the compound a possible option as a male contraceptive.

Mice given the compound were infertile because their sperm were less mobile than mice not give JQ1. They also had lower sperm counts.

“While we will be conducting more research to see if we can build on our current findings, JQ1 shows initial promise as a lead compound for male contraception”, says Bradner.

The elusive male birth control pill might become a reality, based on the mouse studies. Mice given the compound still displayed the same mating behaviors and had healthy offspring after JQ1 was discontinued. The question from many women is – would men take any kind of birth control pill? 

August 17, 2012