Birth control for men edges closer

Researchers make male mice reversibly infertile without using hormones
August 17, 2012
Small-Molecule Inhibition of BRDT for Male Contraception

Small-Molecule Inhibition of BRDT for Male Contraception (credit: Martin M. Matzuk et al./Cell)

Researchers have reported a new way to make male mice temporarily infertile, says Nature News,

The technique impairs sperm production by blocking a protein called BRDT. This protein was singled out as a potential therapeutic target five years ago because it only occurs in the testes, where it is required for the division of sperm cells.

If the approach proves safe in humans, it would be an improvement over hormone-based methods of male contraception, which are not completely effective and cause side effects such as mood swings, acne and a loss of libido.

Other techniques in earlier stages of development include testosterone pills and implants. Researchers are also attempting to make a compound that blocks retinoic acid — essential for sperm production — without causing the undesirable side effects seen in initial attempts at interfering with its action, which made men feel sick after consuming alcohol.