The Male Pill Is Nearly Here After Massive Funding Boost
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Scientists researching a male contraceptive have been given a huge funding boost by the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation.
Researchers at the University of Dundee were given a $1.7 million cash boost (that’s £1.2 million in sterling) to help them uncover suitable compounds in order to develop a safe and effective male contraceptive or ‘Pill’.
So far, most contraceptives are aimed at women, and include the pill, the patch and the coil. Many struggle with hormonal-based contraceptives, while IUD’s have been described as painful to insert. Little work has been done on male contraceptives beyond condoms.
Recent efforts into new contraceptive methods have been hampered for a variety of reasons, including the relatively poor understanding of human sperm biology and the lack of studies that convincingly show the key functions that sperm must carry out after leaving the male.
There have also been struggles with no efficient system to screen the effects of the known drugs that are available.
To counter this, Dundee researchers have developed a miniaturised parallel testing system that uses a fast microscope and image-processing tools that precisely monitor the very fast movement of sperm.
The need of a male contraceptive, or Pill, is all the more urgent. It is thought 121 million unwanted pregnancies occurred between 2015 - 19, which were three times more common in the world's poorest regions.
Speaking about the boost to funding, Chris Barratt, Professor of Reproductive Medicine in Dundee University’s School of Medicine, explained: “There has been no significant change in the field of male contraception since the development of the condom.
“This means that much of the burden of protecting against unwanted pregnancies continue to fall upon women.
"We hope to address that inequality and we have already made progress, thanks to our previous round of funding received from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.”
He added: “By the end of this two-year period, we would like to have identified a high-quality compound that we can progress to the first stages of drug development.
"That would be a significant step forward for the field and could potentially be the key that unlocks a new era in male contraception.”