The development of a male contraceptive pill has long proven to be elusive, but findings from a new study may point scientists in the right direction to making oral birth control for men a reality.
Researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Baylor College of Medicine report in the Aug. 17 issue of Cell that they have used a small molecule compound to generate reversible birth control in male mice.
The compound, called JQ1, penetrates the blood-testis boundary to disrupt spermatogenesis, the process by which sperm develop to become mature sperm. The result is a decrease in the number and quality of sperm. The study showed that normal sperm production resumed when JQ1 was discontinued, and JQ1 did not affect testosterone production, mating behavior, or the health of offspring conceived after JQ1 use.
“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.