Male contraceptive injection 'Vasalgel' could arrive by 2017
Men could be able to benefit from a new type contraception within three years, and it doesn’t involve condoms. The non-profit organisation Parsemus Foundation, who are involved in the production of low-cost medical treatment options, are using baboons to conduct clinical trials on a pioneering male birth control injection that will apparently cost ‘less than a flat screen TV’. The contraceptive injection is currently named Vasalgel, and the makers hope it will be cheap, long-lasting and most importantly, reversible. It involves a health professional injecting a 'polymer' into the vas deferens – a thick, muscular tube that connects the testes to the urethra and where sperm travel through to get to the penis. So far, clinical trials have involved three male baboons being injected with the drug. Each male was then left to share living space with 10-15 female baboons for six months. Remarkably, none of the females became impregnated after the six months. The drug makers say after a year they will be able to have more information about Vasalgel’s efficacy, with the hope for human clinical trials to start in 2015. Should the man and his partner change their mind about children, the man can have the procedure reversed with another polymer gel that is injected to get rid of the Vasalgel that is working to block the sperm. The only downside about an injection contraceptive is that unlike condoms, they will not provide any protection against a whole range of sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia, genital herpes, gonorrhoea, and many more. Vasalgel’s official website says the contraceptive is a “long-acting, nonhormonal contraceptive similar to vasectomy but with one significant advantage: it is likely to be more reversible. The procedure is similar to a no-scalpel vasectomy, except a gel is injected into the vas deferens (the tube the sperm swim through) rather than cutting the vas (as is done in vasectomy). If a man wishes to restore flow of sperm, whether after months or years, the polymer is flushed out of the vas with another injection.” The idea of Vasalgel partly came about from a different male contraceptive also in the works, tentatively named RISUG. Both block the vas deferens through the use of a gel, but RISUG and Vasalgel are formulated differently. It is yet unclear for what time span the Vasalgel injection would be effective for as a contraceptive means, but the RISUG injection has been said to last for around 10 years. A Parsemus Foundation spokesperson said: “We want to get Vasalgel on the market as soon as possible, but all the proper efficacy and safety testing needs to be completed. Vasalgel is currently in animal testing, with human trials expected to start in early 2015 and 2015-2016 (larger trials). If everything goes well and with enough public support, we hope to get Vasalgel on the market in 2016-2017.” The company are now requesting public donations to aid the human clinical trials set to begin next year.