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British men become first in the world to test new male contraceptive pill in huge breakthrough

British men become first in the world to test new male contraceptive pill in huge breakthrough

Scientists think the new drug could revolutionise birth control

A group of Brits have become the first men in the world to test a brand new male contraceptive pill.

Scientists believe the hormone-free drug - called YCT-529 - could revolutionise how men and women share responsibility when it comes to birth control.

A trial of YCT-529 is set to kick off in Nottingham, with 16 volunteers taking the drug to help gather data.

A press release from US-based YourChoice Therapeutics, which is running the trial, explains: “As a retinoic acid receptor-alpha (RAR-alpha) inhibitor, YCT-529 prevents sperm production by blocking access to vitamin A.”

The pill works differently to previous forms of male contraceptive, which have relied on suppressing testosterone - but this does not completely stop sperm production and can bring unwanted side-effects such as weight gain and mood changes.

According to the release, initial preclinical studies, carried out on mice, showed YCT-529 was 99 percent effective and 100 percent reversible with no side effects.

Sixteen men from the UK are set to take part in a trial of the drug.
Pexels/Ron Lach

The University of Minnesota’s Gunda Georg, who has led the development of the drug, said: “This could be a historic moment. We know that many men would be interested in a male contraceptive pill if one was available. And whenever I describe this work to women they always say: ‘It’s about time’.

“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.

“We consciously chose to inhibit the vitamin A signalling pathway in the testis because nearly 100 years of research has validated this pathway and shows that infertility can be reversed easily.”

The hormone-free drug could be a game changer for couples.
Pexels/Yan Krukau

Currently there are only two approved contraceptive options for fellas - condoms and vasectomies, while both have their drawbacks.

Akash Bakshi, a co-founder and the chief executive of YourChoice Therapeutics, 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.”

He added: “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.”

Featured Image Credit: Getty Stock Photos

Topics: Science, UK News, Sex and Relationships