$1.2 Million awarded to new male contraceptive research

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RESEARCH at the University of Dundee into male contraception has been boosted by a recent donation of $1.2 Million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Recent data suggests that between 2015-2019 there were 121 million unintentional pregnancies in the world – with women in poverty 3 times more likely to fall pregnant accidentally.

Experts at the University of Dundee will utilise the donation over the next two years in order to identify sustainable compounds and potentially develop a safe and effective male contraceptive.

Chris Barratt, Professor of Reproductive Medicine
Image by Jonathan Watson, Chris Barratt, Professor of Reproductive medicine in the Universities School of Medicine

 Chris Barratt, Professor of Reproductive Medicine in the University’s School of Medicine stated “there has been no significant change in the field of male contraception since the development of the condom.”

“This means that much of the burden of protecting against unwanted pregnancies continues to fall upon women. We hope to address that inequality and we have already made progress, thanks to our previous round of funding received from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.” 

Drug discovery efforts into male contraception have been hampered by little understanding in human sperm biology, the lack of studies that convincingly link protein target in human sperm to the key functions that sperm must carry out after leaving the male and no effective system to test the effects of the myriad chemicals and known drugs that are available.

However, Dundee researchers have already developed a miniaturised parallel testing system that uses efficient microscope and image-processing tools that accurately  showcase the very fast movement of human sperm, allowing the effects of drugs to be measured precisely.

Image by Jonathan Watson, University od Dundee, School of Medicine

Work to identify suitable molecules has continued throughout with this latest donation providing continued support to the research carried out by the Dundee team.

Mr Barratt said “Dundee houses a world leading Drug Discovery Unit within the School of Life Sciences, which has proven expertise in innovative science and delivering translational science,”

“Our work is incredibly challenging, and so the importance of being able to work with world-class research colleagues within the same institution cannot be overstated. Collaborative working is absolutely critical as we proceed and being able to do that in-house is a huge advantage as we progress with this research.”