American scientists have used a pill developed to block a cancer-causing gene to interrupt sperm production, offering the very possibility for the future development of an oral, male contraceptive.
The compound, called JQ1, penetrates the blood-testis boundary to disrupt spermatogenesis, the process by which sperm develop to become mature sperm.
The result is a decrease in the number and quality of sperm.
"Our findings demonstrate that, when given to rodents, this compound produces a rapid and reversible decrease in sperm count and mobility with profound effects on fertility," said James Bradner, the paper's senior author, from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Baylor College of Medicine, in a statement.
"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."
The promising test results indicated that the effect of the drug was temporary.
JQ1 was originally synthesized at Dana-Farber to block BRD4, a cancer-causing gene.
Named for the lead chemist, Jun Qi, PhD, in the Bradner laboratory, JQ1 has proven effective in models of lung cancer and in several blood cancers including leukemia and multiple myeloma.