UK men to trial ‘100% reversible’ and hormone-free male contraceptive pill | Tech News

The new pill works by blocking access to vitamin A (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A new hormone-free male contraceptive pill could be the answer to finally achieving equal responsibility for birth control between the sexes, scientists believe.

British men will be the first in the world to try out the pill – catchily named YCT-529 – as part of a phase 1 trial by a company based in Nottingham.

Unlike the female pill, which can bring many miserable side effects for users, the male pill does not rely on hormones to do its job.

Instead, it is a retinoic acid receptor-alpha inhibitor. That’s a complicated way of saying it blocks a pathway in the testis which signals vitamin A, thus preventing sperm production.

In previous attempts to create a male contraceptive, scientists have tried suppressing the sex hormone testosterone.

However, YourChoice Therapeutics – the company behind the new drug – says this doesn’t completely stop sperm from being produced and can cause complications.

In studies spanning nine decades, researchers have shown that cutting off vitamin A can cause infertility in mice, rats and monkeys.

Applying the same logic to humans has resulted in a pill that is ‘99% effective and 100% reversible with no side effects’, according to experts from YourChoice.

Akash Bakshi, the company’s co-founder and chief executive, said: ‘YCT-529 blocks a protein – not hormones – to prevent sperm production.

‘We believe this will be more attractive to men, most of whom view pregnancy prevention as a shared responsibility even despite today’s limited contraceptive options, which are permanent or only moderately effective.

‘The dearth of options reinforces the centuries-old view that pregnancy prevention is ‘a woman’s responsibility’.

‘It’s not, and we’re committed to advancing the first hormone-free birth control pill for men that’s effective, convenient and temporary.’

Their phase 1 trial is being conducted by Nottingham-based Quotient Sciences with 16 men.

Gunda Georg, a regents professor at the University of Minnesota’s College of Pharmacy who developed the pill, said she feels confident in the pill’s ‘strong’ safety profile.

She added: ‘The last innovation in contraception was the birth control pill for women, and that’s more than 60 years ago.

‘The world is ready for a male contraceptive agent, and delivering one that’s hormone-free is simply the right thing to do given what we know about the side effects women have endured for decades from the pill.’

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