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Hormone-Free Male Contraception Possible

Drug Causes Mice to Produce Deformed Sperm, Unable to Fertilize Egg
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Dec. 10, 2002 -- A hormone-free "birth control" drug for men may indeed be possible. British researchers have discovered that an available drug causes deformities in sperm, making them unable to fertilize an egg. The drug is used to treat a rare genetic disorder called Gaucher's disease.

Even better, the drug does not contain any hormones and has no effect on male sexual behavior. Studies of male contraceptives involving testosterone have been shown to lower levels of HDL "good" cholesterol.

In tests lasting three weeks, male mice were given daily doses of the drug, known by its acronym NB-NDJ. They became sterile, producing sperm that were misshapen and otherwise deformed and unable to swim to successfully fertilize an egg.

The mice regained their fertility when taken off the drug in the fourth week.

Researchers say that infertility was not caused by reduction of testosterone levels in the mice. Likely, the drug is able to biochemically alter the sperm production without affecting sperm count. And it did so at doses 10 times smaller than that used to treat Gaucher's.

They say the drug shows promise as a male contraceptive because of its oral availability, low dose of action, and lack of impact on male hormones.

The study of NB-NDJ appears in the recent issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

SOURCE: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, December 2002.

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