Sugarcoating Male Contraception

+ See all authors and affiliations

Science  10 Jan 2003:
Vol. 299, Issue 5604, pp. 169
DOI: 10.1126/science.299.5604.169a

Over a billion people will be entering reproductive age by the year 2020, yet little progress has been made toward the development of new birth control methods (News, 21 June, p. 2172). Research on male contraceptives has focused primarily on hormonal manipulations that disrupt spermatogenesis, but these strategies can have undesired side effects.

van der Spoel et al. report that oral delivery of a sugar molecule called NB-DNJ (for N-butyldeoxynojirimycin) causes sterility in male mice that is fully reversible after withdrawal of the drug. Although NB-DNJ did not affect sperm counts, the epididymal spermatozoa in the treated mice showed morphological abnormalities and severely impaired motility. These effects may relate to the drug's ability to inhibit synthesis of certain glucosphingolipids that are required for spermatogenesis. NB-DNJ is a particularly promising lead in the search for a male pill, because it already has been evaluated in clinical trials for other indications and is known to be well tolerated by humans. –PAK

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 99, 17173 (2002).

Navigate This Article