Bill Gates Gives Huge Funding Boost To Scientists Working On Male Contraceptive Pill
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Work has been underway for years to see if there is a pill that men could take that would stop their sperm from making a woman pregnant.
Researchers at the University of Dundee have been one of the many institutions looking into the idea, and their work will now continue for many more trials after being given $1.7 million (£1.2m), which they plan to use over the next two years.
These scientists have developed a miniaturised parallel testing system that uses a fast microscope and image-processing tools, which is hoped to monitor the very fast movement of sperm in a more precise way and help screen the effects of drugs currently available.
Gates previously donated more than $900,000 (£647,000) to the university's research back in 2018, and the new cash injection will help further the important work.
Chris Barratt, Professor of Reproductive Medicine in Dundee University's School of Medicine, said he was overwhelmed with the funding boost, adding: "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.
"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."
Research into the male pill has been hampered for a variety of reasons, including a lack of studies that convincingly show the key functions sperm must carry out after leaving the male.
Scientists have also run into the issue of finding an efficient system that screens the effects of the known drugs that are available.
So far, most contraceptives are aimed at women, and include the pill, the patch and the coil. Many struggle with hormonal-based contraceptives, while IUDs have been described as painful to insert.
While a lot of work has been done, there hasn't really been any mainstream and health-approved contraception options for men beyond condoms.