Possible Man-Whore Pill Would Make Testicles More Forgetful

Yet another ship has (a little by accident) sailed into the largely uncharted waters of male birth control pills, having discovered that a drug being developed for cancer treatment might actually make testicles temporarily "forget" how to produce sperm. This latest breakthrough in the burgeoning field of sperm obfuscation comes on the heels of news in May that a Scottish research team had pinpointed a gene necessary for sperm production, a breakthrough that opened the imaginarium of hormone-free male contraception.

The latest discovery in the quest for the male pill comes by way of Dr. James Bradner from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, who believes that he and his team may have alighted on a way to trick the testicles into shutting down sperm production without any discernible side effects. What's more, the treatment would be completely reversible.

Bradner and his team had been working towards a new cancer drug (based on a molecule called JQ1, after a chemist in the lab named Jun Qi) that would affect a structure on cancer cells called BRD4. According to MSNBC's Maggie Fox and her assuredly greater facility with science jargon, BRD4 helps tumors "remember" to be cancerous, and so JQ1's purpose was to act as the heavy night of drinking to a tumor's memory bank, that is, by helping neutralize BRD4 and allowing the cells to "forget" to be tumors. Since Bradner's team had to be sure that JQ1 wouldn't have any pernicious side effects on otherwise healthy cells, they started casting around for structures similar to BRD4 and found BRDT, the "T" standing for, tee-hee-hee-hee, testicles.

After some ruminating, help from Dr. Martin Matzuk at a fertility lab at Baylor, a few helpful lab mice, and the miracle of Skype, researchers eventually figured out that, not only did JQ1 inactivate BRDT in mice, it had the same effect on human versions of BRDT. Though the drug was given to mice via an injection, Matzuk thinks there's no reason why the sperm-forgetting JQ1 couldn't be offered in a pill, except that people are generally pretty forgetful themselves, and Matzuk doesn't think that women would trust men to remember to take their pills daily.

New cancer drug affects sperm, study shows [MSNBC]

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