A Male Birth Control pill for men has passed the first tests of human safety, experts at a leading medical conference have heard.
The Male Birth Control Pill once a day contains hormones designed to stop sperm production.
It would be a welcome addition to condoms or vasectomy, the only options currently available to men.
But the doctors attending the annual meeting of the Society of Endocrinology were informed that it would take another decade to bring them to the market.
The results of the Phase 1 study were presented on March 24 at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in New Orleans. Stephanie Page, a professor of medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine, co-directed the study with Christina Wang, professor of medicine at UCLA in Los Angeles.
The results of the study indicate that the male experimental oral contraceptive reduces sperm production while preserving libido. The pill is called dodecylcarbonate of 11-beta-methyl-19-nortestosterone or 11-beta-MNTDC. It is a modified testosterone that combines the action of a male hormone (androgen) and a progesterone.
The study involved 40 healthy men at two sites: the UW Medical Center in Seattle and the Biomedical Research Institute in Los Angeles, Torrance, California.
Ten study participants randomly received one placebo capsule and another 30 received 11-beta-MNTDC in one of two doses. ; 14 men received 200 mg and 16 received the 400 mg dose.
The subjects took the drug or placebo once a day for 28 days.
The researchers reported that the levels of two hormones needed for sperm production had significantly decreased in the cohort studied compared with those who took the placebo.
And among those who took the androgen-based drug, hormone levels needed for sperm production dropped significantly compared to placebo, returning to normal after the trial.
In fertile men, new sperm are constantly produced in the testes, activated by hormones.
The problem is the temporary blockage of this effect without decreasing hormone levels to the point of creating side effects.
But the latest male pill, which is currently being tested by researchers at LA BioMed and the University of Washington, should achieve this goal, say the researchers.
In contrast, the adverse effects of these male birth control pill were few and light.
The researcher behind the work, Professor Christina Wang and her colleagues, are enthusiastic but cautious about libido as a side effect.
Other scientists have tried to administer long-acting contraceptive hormones in a vaccine administered every two months.
But they stopped recruiting men for their Phase 2 study, examining the safety and effectiveness of the injection, after some volunteers reported side effects, including mood disorders or depression.
For men who do not feel like taking hormones, the researchers looked for ways to block the flow of semen, preventing it from leaving the penis, effectively, a non-surgical vasectomy.
Vasalgel, a polymeric material that is injected into the two channels that carry sperm from the left and right testes to the penis, is being developed as a reversible, long-lasting, non-hormonal male contraceptive.
So far, it has only been tested on animals, but the researchers behind this project have recently received funds to start human trials.
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