New Vision for Male Birth Control: Don't Let Sperm Swim

Control over sperm motility could help infertile men, too
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 25, 2016 8:03 AM CDT
New Vision for Male Birth Control: Don't Let Sperm Swim
Could the male "pill" keep sperm from swimming?   (Getty Images)

Male fertility comes down to one thing in many cases: sperm motility. If they're not good swimmers, fertility can be an issue, reports the Independent. But researchers at the University of Wolverhampton in the UK are reporting (though not yet in a peer-reviewed scientific journal) that they may have hit upon a way to alter sperm motility that could offer a form of birth control to fertile men and a form of fertility treatment to infertile men. Through research on cow sperm, two scientists found cell-penetrating peptides can "alter the physiology of sperm," which are, "ironically ... difficult to penetrate." They say cell-penetrating peptides can cross the otherwise secure border "to manipulate the intracellular biology of sperm so as to enhance or inhibit motility."

An outside epidemiologist tells Mashable that while it's at an early stage, the research "looks promising" and could next be tested on mice. But things could move even faster as the research is part of a three-year, $210,000 project with the University of Aveiro in Portugal, where scientists have access to human sperm. The UK researchers note that the quest for a male birth control pill has thus far largely failed because the best attempts alter male hormone levels in a way that can be permanent. Cell-penetrating peptides allow for the manipulation of sperm motility without any change in male hormonal control systems. (Check out this Tinder-style sperm bank.)

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