Update: The Parsemus Foundation is dedicated to finding the “low-cost solutions” neglected by big pharma. One of its star projects is coming soon to clinical trials near you. On Friday, ABC7 News featured the Bay Area nonprofit and its in-development male birth control, Vasalgel. This non-hormonal, long-acting contraceptive works like a vasectomy, but can be reversed. If all goes to plan, by 2017, men will finally have a birth control option in that vast middle-ground between condom and traditional vasectomy. We're all for expanding reproductive health options for both men and women, so we're rooting for Vasalgel. Given its success thus far, we have good reason to believe that it'll be on the market soon. Watch the video above for more info. Then, click through to the next page to learn more about the fascinating story behind this revolutionary form of BC.
Illustrated By Ly Ngo.
Original Story, published September 9, 2014: If the Parsemus Foundation — a nonprofit dedicating to finding the “low-cost solutions” neglected by big pharma — has its way, men could soon take charge of birth control in their sexual partnerships. Last week, the foundation released an update on the encouraging progress of nonhormonal male contraceptive Vasalgel, The Daily Beast reported earlier today. If all goes according to plan, human trials will begin next year and Vasalgel will hit the market by 2017 — 57 years after the FDA okayed the Pill for contraceptive use.
Vasalgel, as its name suggests, is a gel that works its magic in the vas deferens, the duct through which sperm travels from testicles to penis during ejaculation. When injected into this duct, the gel prevents sperm from passing through, just as a vasectomy blocks sperm flow. Unlike a vasectomy, the effect is reversible, through a second injection to flush out the gel. The substance is now in preclinical primate trials: The Parsemus Foundation reports that six months ago, researchers administered Vasalgel to three male baboons, who were then moved into separate enclosures with 10 to 15 females each — their own personal harems. So far, despite copious amounts of copulation, none of the male baboons have impregnated any female baboons. In October, researchers will flush out the baboons' Vasalgel and confirm that their sperm starts to flow normally again; this reversal was successful in earlier trials performed on rabbits. (You can read more about the Parsemus Foundation's approach to animal testing here.)
It's important to note that Vasalgel won't protect against STIs, including HIV: Parsemus points out that while some HIV lives in sperm, most of the virus actually lives in seminal fluid, which will still pass from a Vasalgel-injected man to his partner during ejaculation. Still, we're excited for Vasalgel's potential to lower rates of unintended pregnancy, and for a future in which birth control responsibility is more equitably shared across the genders. (Considering that a one-time injection for a man in a heterosexual, monogamous relationship will translate to a woman no longer in need of birth control pills, pharmaceutical companies may be less excited than we are.) If you're all for this expansion in contraceptive options, you can donate to Vasalgel's cause — and if you are a man who really wants to show his support, you can even volunteer to participate in next year's clinical trials (sign up for e-mail updates on volunteering here).