After 50 years of women taking oral contraceptives, scientists discovered a revolutionary breakthrough that could help create the world's first birth control pill for men.
James Bradner, a researcher at Harvard's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, discovered a unique property while he was working on a molecule that could make cancer cells "forget" they are cancer cells, as the Daily News reports. That molecule — JQ1 — could also potentially be used as male birth control, he found, by restraining a protein that is critical to male fertility.
According to the study:
JQ1 accomplishes a complete and reversible contraceptive effect in males without adversely affecting testosterone levels or mating behaviors and without prompting obvious teratogenic effects in offspring. These results indicate that targeting a developmental epigenetic reader protein with an orally bioavailable small molecule can modulate male fertility for a contraceptive effect.
Essentially, the male oral contraceptive would work the same way as the female pill. It would be effective for as long as it is taken, and fertility would return after it was no longer taken.
In mice, research showed that JQ1 "did not have any long-term transgenerational effects on testis physiology or reproductive capacity." In fact, researchers have found the only side effect so far to be mild weight loss.
"For sure, some people would not be too upset with this," Bradner said.