Sperm protein may offer target for male contraceptive

sperm and egg

ROAD BLOCK  Blocking a newly identified protein in sperm tails stops sperm from penetrating eggs, and could be the key for developing male contraceptives.


For 55 years, birth control pills have been exclusively for women. But men may be a step closer to getting in on the action, researchers report online October 1 in Science.

A newly identified sperm protein, called PPP3CC/PPP3R2, gives scientists a promising target for developing male contraceptives. The protein resides in sperm tails and helps sperm push through the tough outer membrane of an egg.

Blocking the protein with drugs for two weeks made mice infertile, though they were still able to mate. And just a week after stopping the drug treatment, fertility recovered. The researchers say that targeting the sperm protein in humans could lead to reversible, fast-acting birth control options for men.

Meghan Rosen is a staff writer who reports on the life sciences for Science News. She earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology with an emphasis in biotechnology from the University of California, Davis, and later graduated from the science communication program at UC Santa Cruz.

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