Scientists have reported that a male birth control pill could be available on the market soon after decades of research.
Scientist James Bradner was working on a formula that he hoped would make cancer cells "forget" they had cancer when he discovered an interesting side-affect; the cells located in male testes also somehow "forgot" how to create fully matured sperm. The result of his research proved that this new formula unintentionally made men infertile.
While that may have been bad news for some cancer patients, it could also mean break through research in the field of male birth control. Scientist have attempted to find a male contraceptive for decades, but failed mostly due to harsh side affects. Testing of the new pill in mice, however, has revealed positive results.
Mice that were given a dosage of the chemical mixture became infertile but were able to reproduce once again after being taken off the drug for a couple of weeks. In addition, the only current side affect appears to be a minimal loss in weight, according to U.S. News and World Report.
The pill is not the only version that researchers are working on but it could be one of the most promising according to Martin Matzuk, a developmental biologist with the Baylor College of Medicine and co-author of the report.
"My feeling is that there may be multiple drugs that we'll develop in parallel. Men may have a number of alternatives," Matzuk told U.S. "I think the main thing about this study is we're targeting the male germ line [cells that develop into sperm], so it's a non-hormonal contraceptive that's reversible, too."
Non-hormonal could mean less adverse side affects.
"There are drugs that can wipe out the entire germ line, but you want a drug that will be reversible," Matzik stated. "The exciting thing about it is, if you target a specific protein, you'll have less chance of side effects."
Matzik projected that the drug would hopefully land on the market within the next ten years; the ideal form would resemble something similar to the female contraceptive pills.