Hopes raised for male contraceptive pill

Scientists make a breakthrough in developing the pill for men

Scientists have discovered a new gene which could see a contraceptive pill for men available for use within the next decade.

The gene, called Katnal 1, vital in creating fertile sperm, has been discovered by scientists at the Centre for Reproductive Health at Edinburgh University.

Katnal 1 aids in the final development of sperm, and if blocked, the testes produce undeveloped, immature sperm, which result in temporary infertility, according to researcher Dr Lee Smith.

‘If we can target this gene in the testes, we could potentially develop a non-hormonal contraceptive’ says Dr Smith.

‘The important thing is that the effects of such a drug would be reversible because Katnal1 only affects sperm cells in the later stages of development, so it would not hinder the early stages of sperm production and the overall ability to produce sperm.’

Dr Smith says creating the contraceptive will not be simple, but he believes it may be available for use in 5-10 years time.

This discovery could also shed some light on the causes of male infertility, and aid in the development of new treatments to combat the problem.
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