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In cream and without hormones: this is the contraceptive for women that blocks sperm

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Choosing contraceptives is not always an easy issue for couples. Except for the condom that the man puts on, all contraceptive methods for women women may have unwanted side effects. Both the classic pill and the diaphragm, the IUD and the contraceptive implant (a plastic rod that is placed under the woman’s skin) release hormones which often reduce the quality of life of women.

Faced with this obvious problem, there are more and more initiatives to enjoy sex safely and comfortably. Thanks to the new contraceptive developed by researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and ZabBio in San Diego (USA), the way of preventing pregnancies could change drastically. It is a non-hormonal anti-sperm monoclonal antibody, the Human Contraceptive Antibody (HCA), which is applied with a cream to the vagina.

It is not the first topical contraceptive, but its operation is different from those previously studied. For example, in 2018 the US National Institute of Child Health and Human Development created a gel for men that reduced sperm productionthus making the possibility of pregnancy difficult.

A little over a year ago, a biotechnology company, also American, obtained approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to launch its contraceptive gel. This product, called Phexxi, was applied to the vagina and regulated its pH to keep it acidic and thus create a hostile environment for sperm survival. In addition to preventing pregnancies, another positive point of Phexxi was that it reduced the risk of gonorrhea and chlamydia infection.

However, the way the new cream created by Boston University and ZabBio works is completely different. Like Phexxi it is applied in the vagina, but what it does is immobilize the sperm, preventing them from fertilizing the egg. It is still in the testing phase but, according to researchers, “it is safe and has powerful sperm agglutination and immobilization activity in laboratory tests.”

“HCA appears to be suitable for contraceptive use and could be administered vaginally in a soluble film to be used as woman-controlled contraceptive methodexplains lead author Deborah Anderson, professor of medicine at BUSM.

Stuck sperm

To evaluate its suitability as a topical contraceptive, researchers tested HCA in a wide range of concentrations and under different physiologically relevant conditions. in vitro.

Specifically, HCA was mixed with sperm from normal healthy volunteers and then analyzed. Within 15 seconds, the sperm were immobilized and stuck firmly. The researchers also found that HCA did not cause vaginal inflammation in laboratory tissue culture tests.

Due to its effectiveness and safety profile, HCA can address current gaps in the field of contraception. “HCA could be used by women who do not use currently available contraceptive methods and may have a significant impact on global health,” Anderson said.

To that end, HCA is currently being tested in a Phase I clinical trial. Researchers also believe that HCA will also could be combined with other antibodies such as anti-HIV and anti-HSV antibodies for a multi-use prevention technology, a product that would serve as a contraceptive and to prevent sexually transmitted infections.

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