In a recent article published by the Nature Communications journal, investigator Wei Yan, MD, Ph.D., from The Lundquist Institute (TLI) and his collaborators have developed a novel approach that has resulted in the discovery of a natural compound that is effective, safe, and acts as a reversible male contraceptive agent in pre-clinical animal models.
Image Credit: The Lundquist Institute.
In spite of considerable efforts over the last many years, the progress in the development of non-hormonal male contraception has been rather limited.
Triptonide is the compound that can be either purified from a Chinese herb known as Tripterygium Wilfordii Hook F or created by chemical synthesis. Triptonide, given in single- daily oral doses, promotes altered sperm with minimal or no forward motility with nearly 100% penetration and thus leads to male infertility in 3 to 4 and 5-6 weeks.
And once treatment is discontinued, the males will become fertile again in approximately 4 to 6 weeks and will be able to produce healthy offspring. No noticeable toxic effects were observed in either long- or short-term triptonide therapy.
All these data indicate that triptonide is an extremely promising non-hormonal male contraceptive agent for men since it seems to fulfill all the requirements for a feasible contraceptive drug candidate, such as safety, efficacy, bioavailability, and reversibility.
A set of biochemical analyses indicates that triptonide targets one of the final steps during the assembly of sperm, resulting in the production of modified sperm that lacks the vigorous motility needed for fertilization.
Thanks to decades of basic research, which inspired us to develop the idea that a compound that targets a protein critical for the last several steps of sperm assembly would lead to the production of nonfunctional sperm without causing severe depletion of testicular cells.”
Wei Yan, MD, PhD, Study Investigator, The Lundquist Institute (TLI)
“We are very excited that the new idea worked and that this compound appears to be an ideal male contraceptive. Our results using non-injurious studies on lower primates suggest triptonide will be an effective treatment for human males as well. Hopefully, we will be able to start human clinical trials soon to make the non-hormonal male contraceptive a reality,” Dr. Yan added.
“Dr. Yan’s discovery represents a major leap forward in the field,” stated Drs. Christina Wang and Ronald Swerdloff, both Co-Principal Investigators from The Lundquist Institute and help lead NIH-supported advanced clinical trials on hormone-based birth control methods.
The more contraceptive methods available, the better, as we will want a family of pharmaceutical products to safely and effectively meet the family planning needs of men and couples at different stages of their reproductive lives, with differing ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds and economic means.”
Drs Christina Wang and Ronald Swerdloff, Co-Principal Investigators, The Lundquist Institute (TLI)
Chang, Z., et al. (2021) Triptonide is a reversible non-hormonal male contraceptive agent in mice and non-human primates. Nature Communications. doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-21517-5.