A team of researchers from the University of North Carolina, together with scientists from the Oregon National Primate Research Center got incredibly closer to creating a male contraceptive pill. By using a substance called EP055, they could prevent monkey sperm from working without disrupting their hormonal activity.
The EP055 compound slowed down the monkey sperm
Researchers tested the compound on several rhesus macaques. They administered EP055 to these specimens, and then monitored their sperm. Thirty hours after administration, they noticed how their sperm cells stopped moving. However, this is not the only remarkable thing about the research. The monkeys suffered no hormonal side effects, which might ensure a bright future ahead for the male contraceptive pill.
Researchers explained how the procedure worked. The compound contains the protein EPPIN, and it attaches it to the surface of the sperm cell. This means it does not interfere with the hormonal function of the monkeys. Also, it does not prevent sperm cells from being made, so the method is basically risk-free.
We still haven’t found the perfect male contraceptive pill for humans
Currently, men do not have many options when it comes to contraception methods. They can use condoms or opt for the drastic method that is a vasectomy. Researchers are constantly studying all kinds of alternative methods. However, the road to the perfect male contraceptive pill is far away. Most trials involve hormonal manipulation that lead to serious side effects.
This EP055 method has appeared risk-free until now. Moreover, the effects are reversible. After 18 days, researchers studied the monkeys again, and saw that their sperm returned to its normal speed. This advertises the compound as safe.
However, this doesn’t automatically mean we can make a male contraceptive pill for humans. Monkeys might not exhibit the same behaviors as humans. Even so, the primate model is definitely better than rodents or other test animals. We still need a lot more research until we can find the ideal contraceptive method for human males. Until then, scientists will perform more tests on monkeys and the EP055 compound.
The study was published in the journal PLOS One.
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