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Science. male contraception. Scientists have developed a method based on the Arrdc5 gene

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The Polish Press Agency informs about the next step of scientists towards the development of an effective and reversible method of contraception for men. It describes the results of research by academics from Washington State University, published on Monday in the journal Nature Communications.

Led by prof. Jon Oatley, the team focused its work on examining the specificity of the Arrdc5 gene, the elimination of which allowed to almost completely block the ability to reproduce in male mice. These findings allowed to start work on a drug that could be used in humans in the future. – Developing a way to limit population growth and stop unwanted pregnancies is really important for the future of the human species – says the main author of the publication, quoted by PAP. – Currently, on the male side, we have nothing but surgery, and a very small percentage of men decide to have a vasectomy. If we can turn our discovery into a contraceptive solution, it could have far-reaching effects.” Oatley.

SEE ALSO: Promising trials of the male contraceptive pill. Scientists: 100% effective

A step towards male contraception

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Commenting on the assumptions regarding the drug, prof. Oatley explained that his goal is to inactivate the Arrdc5 gene, which in turn is supposed to lead to a state in which the sperm produced by the body are incapable of fertilizing eggs. “This is the main goal of the male contraceptive development,” adds the professor.

In the work published on Monday, his team proves that the described Arrdc5 gene is expressed (a process responsible for creating proteins with a specific function, in this case reproductive – ed.) only in the testes. Its elimination allowed for a reduction in the number, movement impairment and shape distortion of spermatozoa in the male mice studied by the team. This, in turn, made these individuals infertile. Male mice that knocked out Arrdc5 produced 28 percent less sperm. These, in turn, moved almost three times slower than the sperm of mice from the control group. In addition, as many as 98 percent of them had an abnormally shaped head, which made them unable to penetrate the egg cell. According to PAP, the combination of these three features creates a condition called oligoasthenoteratozoospermia (OAT), which is currently the most common cause of male infertility.

Importantly, according to the researchers, knocking out Arrdc5 can be reversed. – The idea is not to eliminate the ability to produce sperm, but to stop their proper production. In such a situation, when the drug is removed, spermatozoa will start to form and function normally again – explains Prof. Jon Oatley. He also emphasizes that this method would not require hormonal interference, which has been one of the key obstacles to male contraception so far, due to testosterone’s functions responsible not only for sperm production, but also for building bone mass, muscle strength and red blood cells.

The team of prof. Oatley has already filed a provisional patent for the development of a contraceptive drug for men, based on the Arrdc5 gene and the protein it encodes, informs PAP. The scientist emphasizes, however, that the elimination of Arrdc5 can be used not only in humans, but also in the case of farm animals and other mammal species, where it could be an alternative to castration.

SEE ALSO: Macron promised free condoms. “We are starting a small preventive revolution”

PAP, Nature Communications

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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