UPDATED: Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - 4:28pm
COLLEGE STATION, TX — Ever since its inception more than 50 years ago birth control has been a source of constant controversy but it's played a key role in allowing women to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
Now, men may soon get the chance take a birth control pill thanks to a team of local research doctors leading the way.
It was a discovery that happened by accident.
Dr. Qinglei Li, an assistant professor at Texas A&M's College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, in collaboration with a team of researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute were researching JQ1, an anti-cancer agent, when they realized it was an inhibitor of BRDT, a key gene for sperm production.
"That's how we started thinking about it," said Dr. Li. "If JQ1 can also have some effect in the male contraception."
And when Dr. Li treated mice with the JQ1 molecule the results were promising.
"It actually affects the testes size so the testes becomes smaller and it also shows that males are sterile after long time treatment."
And most importantly, the results are reversible and there are no long-term side effects.
"Eventually this kind of research has a potential to translate to the clinic," Dr. Li said. "So that means, potentially, it could be used for a male contraceptive."
But not all males are keen on the idea of taking a male birth control pill one day.
A&M junior, Jordan Chappell said, "I feel like that would be taking away from what the male job is and taking away from my masculinity."
But Joseph Beningo disagrees, "I don't think it is emasculating at all. Anything that puts the power back into your own hands is not emasculating. It actually gives the power back to you so I think it's a great idea."
Dr. Li hopes clinical trials will start within five to ten years.