A drug developed as a cancer treatment proved to be an effective form of birth control for male mice, according to a Bloomberg report.
Scientists don’t intend to test that particular compound, called JQ1, in humans. But they hope their findings may eventually point the way toward male birth control.
The report quotes James Bradner, the senior author on the study and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, as saying: “These findings suggest that a reversible, oral male contraceptive may be possible. While we will be conducting more research to see if we can build on our current findings, JQ1 shows initial promise as a lead compound for male contraception.”
Stakes are potentially high. The U.S. market for female birth control pills was more than $3.5 billion in 2011, according to data from IMS Health Inc. As the report notes, those drugs can carry side effects including blood clots.
While all birth control pills can increase the risk of blood clots, a number of studies indicate that oral contraceptives containing the synthetic hormone drospirenone can carry up to three times that risk compared to other birth control pills on the market.
And according to Bloomberg, as many as 49 percent of births in the U.S. were unplanned in 2006 despite the availability of birth control for women and condoms for men.
JQ1 disrupts the process through which sperm develop and become mature, reducing the quantity and quality of the sperm in mice, the study found. The treatment was initially developed to block a gene linked to lung and blood cancers.
Patients should consult their doctors before making any changes in their medication. A consultation with a Beyaz lawyer is also important if there are significant injuries while on Beyaz or similar birth control pills.