It could be only five to 10 years before a male contraceptive pill is developed thanks to new research.
Fertility researcher Lee Smith from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland used mice to pinpoint genes related to male infertility, and his findings could pave the way for a male contraceptive pill.
In the study, Smith led a team who fed drugs to mice to give them genetic mutations.
After identifying the infertile mice, they were able to trace the infertility to the gene mutation, and then examine how it impacted the mouse’s sperm cells.
One of the key findings of the study was the discovery that the gene Katnal1 is particularly important for sperm formation as it creates a protein that allows mouse sperm to mature in the testes. Without the gene, the sperm remains immature and, therefore, infertile.
The next step: investigating whether a mutation that affects Katnal1 can cause infertility in men.
"Identification of genetic mutations associated with infertility that affect the supporting cells [and not the sperm themselves] could lead to personalised gene therapy for male infertility within five to 10 years," Smith said.
Not only will the discovery help couples struggling to fall pregnant, but it could be used to develop a male contraceptive.