Researchers have identified a compound which turns off the sperm’s ability to swim, thereby significantly limiting fertilisation capabilities without causing any physical side effects.
The compound called EP055 affects the mobility of sperm, and was successful in tests with monkeys, suggesting a “male contraceptive pill” could be on the way.
In a study with monkeys, researchers found EP055 binds to sperm proteins and slows their mobility. The findings were published on Friday in the journal PLOS ONE.
Currently, condoms and surgical vasectomy are the only safe forms of birth control currently available for men.
There are hormonal drugs in clinical trials that target the production of sperm, but these affect the natural hormones in men much like female contraceptives affect hormones in women.
During the study, 30 hours following a high-dose intravenous infusion of EP055 in male monkeys, the researchers found no indication of normal sperm motility. Further, no physical side effects were observed.
“At 18 days post-infusion, all macaques showed signs of complete recovery,” said study co-investigator Mary Zelinski from Oregon National Primate Research Center at Oregon Health and Science University in the US.
“Simply put, the compound turns-off the sperm’s ability to swim, significantly limiting fertilization capabilities,” said lead investigator Michael O’Rand, a retired professor in University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine and President/CEO of Eppin Pharma Inc.
“This makes EP055 an ideal candidate for non-hormonal male contraception,” O’Rand added.