Saturday, 9 July 2011

Reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance: Birth control for men is now just an injection away

By Syed Akbar

Hyderabad: Birth control is now just an injection away. Take an injection and stay infertile for as long as 10
years. The process can be reversed to fertility anytime through another injection. India's first indigenously
developed male contraceptive is all set to be launched in the market in the next few months.
The wait for a safe, hassle-free and "anytime-reversible male contraceptive" has been  quite long and
arduous. Almost three decades after it was first developed, the injectible male  contraceptive is now ready
for general use in India.
At present men, who prefer family planning, have only two major options - condom or  vasectomy, while
women have more than a dozen including pills and jabs. While condom cannot be relied upon always,
vasectomy is largely irreversible. The new male contraceptive is more reliable than condom and more
temporary than vasectomy. This is the first non-hormone based male contraceptive, and thus safe and
IIT Kharagpur's Prof Sujoy Kumar Guha, who developed the famous female contraceptive CopperT, is the
brain behind the reversible male contraceptive that works on the principles of "Reversible Inhibition of
Sperm Under Guidance".
During advanced clinical trials as many as 200 men have undergone the procedure with quite encouraging
results. The Indian technology has attracted world-wide medical attention with experts from the USA ready
to licence it. Since clinical trials done in India are not recognised by the Food and Drug Administration of
the US, it will take a couple of years for the male contraceptive to enter the United States of America.
"Every few weeks we get people coming from the West. A lot of them write to us, and a number of them
even come and sit in our hospital, asking for the injection," Prof Sujoy Guha said.
An injection containing a non-hormonal polymer is given in the vas deferens or the sperm tube. Vasectomy
involves cutting of the vas deferens, so sperm though produced in testes does not come 
out. But, this non-hormonal polymer stays in the vas deferens and makes the sperm less active by taking away its natural energy. Since the injection is given in the vas deferens, there may be temporary swelling 
of the scrotum. Except for this temporary swelling, there are no side-effects.
The spermatozoa though produced in millions, do not make way to the egg thanks to their  de-activated
motility. Since testes continues to produce sperm, it does not affect the biology of the person like
maintenance of muscle mass and male hormonal levels. Another injection (sodium bicarbonate) in the same
region makes the polymer ineffective, and thus the person turns fertile once again. Both the injections are
given under local anaesthesia.
A non-profit organisation, Parsemus Foundation, is trying to purchase the rights outside India to utilise the
RISUG technology in the USA. The male contraceptive faced a number of hurdles, both bureaucratic and
technical, in the last 30 years before the dream could become a reality.
When the contraceptive was in phase-III trials, it was stopped abruptly thanks to Central  government
intervention. Now that all the hurdles have been cleared, India's own anytime reversible  male contraceptive
is ready to make waves in the medical world. 

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