NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Friday, October 2, 2015, 3:40 PM
Scientists have found a way to cause temporary infertility in male mice — and the breakthrough could lead to the first birth control pill for men.
The findings, reported in the Oct. issue of “Science,” raise the possibility of more birth control options for men beyond condoms and vasectomies.
“It is important that we find an effective and reversible contraceptive option to allow men more control over their own reproductive futures,” Masahito Ikawa, the study’s lead researcher, told “Science.”
Researchers focused on a protein found in both mice and men — and Ikawa’s team was able to sterilize the rodents by temporarily blocking the protein.
By feeding the mice two existing drugs — cyclosporine A and tacrolimus — they were able to block their production of calcineurin.
Without calcineurin, the mice were essentially infertile — since their sperm was too weak to impregnate females.
When the scientists stopped doping the rodents, their fertility came back within a week, Ikawa said.
It’s not yet known if the same process will work in human males — even though they too carry calcineurin in their sperm.
Such a simple and effective method of birth control is sorely needed for men, said Dr. Abraham Morgentaler, a member of the board of directors for the American Sexual Health Association.
Condoms are not foolproof, he noted, and in many countries outside the U.S., not widely available.
And many men who want to control their fertility don’t want to undergo the permanent step of a vasectomy.
“There is a great need for a male contraceptive that does not involve minor surgical procedures or condoms,” Morgentaler said.