Molecular Condom The Future of Birth Control
Recent studies have made a breakthrough which almost sounds impossible, researchers have discovered a new form of birth control which might solve numerous problems. Forget about using condoms and contraceptive pills this new possibility will be effective for both genders called “Molecular Condom”. It has no hormonal side effects and one can also choose plan B which will not worry about anti-abortion advocates.
Scientists from UC Berkeley in a recently published study show how two chemicals found in plants can prevent the sperm from drilling itself into an egg. The general practice carried out in the case of birth control is to stop the sperm from ever reaching an egg. The sperm has to travel almost 24,00 times its own body length to reach the egg wagging its tail and on reaching it has to switch over to a corkscrew technique, pushing its head through the egg’s protective zona pellucida layer. The fertilisation is accomplished by pushing a tonne of calcium ions into the sperm’s tail. Sperm has a unique ion channel that is called Catsper. When the sperm gets close to an egg, that ion channel kicks in due to its proximity to progesterone.
The studies reveal that by testing chemical compounds that could sabotage the corkscrewing climax of the sperm’s journey. Chemicals like lupeol and pristimerin have shown the most promising results. These herbal chemicals are found in many plants around us like the aloe, as well as fruits and vegetables like grapes, olives and cabbage
Though Pristimerin is a rarely found and comes from a vine technically known as Tripterygium wilfordii and its common name is “thunder god vine.” It has been used in Chinese herbal medicine frequently.
The studies conducted by the researcher found these chemicals were able to nullify the sperm’s natural response to progesterone. The researchers refer to it as a “Molecular Condom” and think it is 10 times more effective than any other form of birth control methods in the market.
Talking to digital media Wired, Professor Polina Lishko, one of the three researchers on the team. She disclosed her plans to start a company that will offer what she calls “a universal contraceptive”. It can be delivered through a skin patch or a vaginal ring and it could even be an emergency contraceptive.
This method is effective as in its case the egg would never become fertilised at all. It has its own critics who believe that sometimes it prevents a fertilised egg from attaching to the uterus, though it’s still early days and it has been put up for debate.
The initial hurdle before the team is the high manufacturing costs for the development of the product. They are looking for a cheaper alternative to acquire the necessary chemicals which are present in very low levels in plants.
Trail are already being conducted on primates and the results are expected by the end of the year. If everything goes well it will be followed by a human trial in the coming years. Let’s wait for the herbal contraceptives to hit the market.
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