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London - A male version of the Pill that has no side-effects may be a step closer after a breakthrough by British fertility experts.
Scientists have discovered a gene that is key to the later stages of sperm production.
A drug that blocks the gene from working could be used as a contraceptive, liberating women from the burden of family planning.
Within five to ten years, the research could also lead to a “genetic vasectomy” – a jab of genes that would leave a man permanently sterile.
The Edinburgh University research could even mean new treatments for infertile men.
The hopes come from a study involving mice in which a gene called Katnal1 did not work, meaning their sperm did not fully mature, the journal PLoS Medicine reports. The discovery paves the way for a drug that temporarily stops the gene from working.
As it would not be based on hormones, unlike some other male contraceptives in development, it should not disrupt a man’s sex drive or result in mood swings and hot flushes.
Researcher Dr Lee Smith said: “The important thing is that the effects of such a drug would be reversible because Katnal1 only affects sperm cells in the later stages of development, so it would not hinder the early stages of sperm development and the overall ability to produce sperm.” - Daily Mail