HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Friday, November 12, 2004

Male Contraceptive

WIth all the Viagra, Cilas, Levitra ads on television, you knew it was only a matter of time before scientists returned to the development of a male contraceptive.  Although scientists have been experimenting with a variety of hormone therapies, more recently some scientists have had some luck using a technique called "immunocontraception."  A brief description of the study from MSNBC states,

"In O’Rand’s experiments, which did not involve hormones, monkeys were immunized using a form of eppin. That is a protein produced in the testis and epididymis, the tightly coiled ducts that carry sperm.

Male monkeys that developed a strong immune response to the eppin were still able to copulate but could not impregnate females, the researchers said.

“We don’t understand the exact mechanism yet, but we think the immunocontraception works by preventing the sperm from freeing itself from the seminal fluid to make its way to the uterus and oviducts to fertilize the egg,” O’Rand said.

In the experiments, designed in the United States and carried out in India, seven of the nine males tested developed high antibody levels. Five of the seven recovered fertility once the immunization stopped. They were injected with eppin about every three weeks to maintain the immunization.

Dr. Patricia Anastasia DeLeon of the University of Delaware said the results were significant and that scientists were lucky to get a protein that would produce antibodies."

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