Scientists have been working on a male contraceptive pill for years now to ease the burden of birth control on women. While creating the product has met with many hurdles, not least of which is men’s unwillingness to take it, research and development is going full steam ahead. Now, Bill Gates has given his support via the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in the form of a pretty substantial donation.
- Researchers at the University of Dundee are leading the pack. They’re just one of the organizations looking into male birth control, and now that Gates’ foundation has donated $1.7 million to their efforts to be used over the next two years, they might get closer to making that dream a reality.
- The system they’ve created is pretty impressive. Scientists at the university developed a miniature parallel testing system that monitors the quick movement of sperm via a state-of-the-art microscope and image-processing tools. This technology allows them to monitor the effects of the drugs that are being developed.
- This isn’t the first time Gates has donated. Back in 2018, he handed over $900,000 to be used for research, a donation that in addition to the new amount will really help researchers. “There has been no significant change in the field of male contraception since the development of the condom,” said Chris Barratt, Professor of Reproductive Medicine at Dundee University’s School of Medicine. “This means that much of the burden of protecting against unwanted pregnancies continue 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.”
- What are the hopes for the next two years? Given that Gates’ donation is meant to stretch for two years, is it safe to assume we might have a somewhat finished product by then? Probably not. “By the end of this two-year period, we would like to have identified a high-quality compound that we can progress to the first stages of drug development,” Barratt explained. “That would be a significant step forward for the field and could potentially be the key that unlocks a new era in male contraception.”
This is long overdue, so here’s to forward movement on this!