The tests were performed on mice. They were performed by researchers from the Paulista State University (Unesp). They seek to develop male contraceptives by studying a protein located in sperm. Now, the new male contraceptive is very close.
Avoiding the movement
There is previous experimentation in this area, but with primates. But this makes the study more complex, time consuming and costly. What is the main objective of this project? To develop male contraceptives to affect sperm motility function. Motility is the term used in biology to describe the ability to move.
For scientists this approach is simpler than preventing the production of the male gamete.
Enrick José Ramo da Silva is a professor at the Botucatu Biosciences Institute (Unesp). He is one of the authors of the research published in the journal Molecular Human Reproduction. He considers: “the complexity of sperm production is greater than that of female eggs”.
Ramo da Silva explained the implications of the study. What would a contraceptive that inhibits sperm production do? For starters, it would take three to four months to take effect.
For the research, the focus was on EPPIN. This is an acronym for epididymal protease inhibitor. What is its function? That of modulating the motility it is intended to influence.
The specialist explained that the sperm has motility only after ejaculation. “It does not need motility before this stage. Therefore it saves energy to travel to the uterus.”
Research in monkeys already proved that the EPPIN protein is related to sperm motility. How was it in mice? Brazilian scientists obtained promising results. The animals received three types of antibodies. And then they showed capacity to inhibit sperm motility.
In the next stages, it is intended that Brazil will continue the tests with mice. In Portugal, studies will be carried out on the effects on human sperm. There, the procedures to obtain the biological material in the country are faster. The new male contraceptive is very close.