(NBC) – At the “Your Choice Therapeutics” lab at UC Berkeley, scientist Nadja Mannowetz demonstrates what their compound does to active sperm cells. In one sample, you can see untreated cells.
“These are the progressive swimmers,” Mannowetz explained.
In another, sperm cells after their treatment.
“Drugging sperm cells with our small molecule results in sperm cells that are really deprived in energy,” said Mannowetz. “So they cannot swim from point A to B.”
If sperm cells can’t reach a woman’s egg, they can’t fertilize it. The plan is to create a pill that men and women can take. That would be a game changer.
“I think it’s interesting that we’re finally putting the weight on men to control their responsibility,” said Allie, a UC Berkley student.
“If it didn’t have a lot of negative side affects to it, I’d consider it,” said student Christian Murray.
Since this drug does not use hormones, researchers say the side effects are minimal.
They’re repurposing a drug that’s already in wide use around the world to treat tape worms.
“It prevents tape worms from being able to reproduce,” said Akash Bakashi. “So, it zaps them of their energy to reproduce. And we’re doing exactly the same thing, just with human sperm. “
But before they make a pill, they plan on creating a hormone-free product that woman can buy over the counter.
Their hope is to have a spermicidal gel available for sale by 2025.