Birth control options aren’t great. For women, most options require using hormones that cause common side effects such as weight gain, metabolic disturbances, nausea, and headaches. For men, the options are fairly dismal, condoms. With condoms having a failure rate high enough to warrant the constant recommendation of an added birth control method, most of the responsibility falls on women. But perhaps not for much longer.
A start-up launched by a Berkeley research team, YourChoice Therapeutics, has a goal of producing the first unisex, non-hormonal birth control pill.
Team includes two experts in sperm physiology and sperm-egg interactions
The team includes two experts in sperm physiology and sperm-egg interactions, and they are focusing on targeting new mechanisms of contraception that don’t involve the use of hormones. Currently the company has raised over half a million dollars and is proposing long term funding this week.
The plan is to have a contraceptive ready to reach consumers by 2025
Founders Akash Bakshi and Nadja Mannowetz tell TechCrunch they plan to have a contraceptive ready to market by 2025. Together, with co-founder and advisor Dr. Polina V. Lishko of Berkeley’s department of cell and molecular biology, they hope to reach women and men all over the world, in the process tapping a market expected to be worth $37 billion by 2023.
“There are perhaps ways that we could cut that time in half or just get something to market,” said Bakshi, YourChoice’s chief executive officer, whose background is in technology commercialization, research and development within the life sciences industry. “But we need to do this right so that we can benefit as many women as possible.”
Team based its original research on the discovery of a natural compound, lupeol
The team is basing its original research on the discovery of a natural compound, lupeol, that is capable of blocking a protein contained within sperm that is required for fertilization. YourChoice’s non-hormonal mechanism of action doesn’t appear to impact cellular ability to function or gene expression, so many of the side effects of current birth control will not be a problem.
The bottom line
“The bottom line is men don’t have good options and women apparently have so many choices, yet they are all really bad,” Mannowetz, a Ph.D. in sperm physiology, told TechCrunch. “They’re all based on that over 60-year-old idea of hormone-based drugs.”
The first product is intended to be a vaginal contraceptive that will need to be applied before intercourse, then there are plans for a contraceptive pill by 2025.
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
Razi Berry is the founder and publisher of the journal Naturopathic Doctor News & Review, which has been in print since 2005, and the premier consumer-faced website of naturopathic medicine, NaturalPath. She is the host of The Natural Cancer Prevention Summit and The Heart Revolution-Heal, Empower and Follow Your Heart, and the popular 10 week Sugar Free Summer program. From a near death experience as a young girl that healed her failing heart, to later overcoming infertility and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia through naturopathic medicine, Razi has lived the mind/body healing paradigm. Her projects uniquely capture the tradition and philosophy of naturopathy: The healing power of nature, the vital life force in every living thing and the undeniable role that science and mind/body medicine have in creating health and overcoming dis-ease. Follow Razi on Facebook at Razi Berry and join us at Love is Medicine to explore the convergence of love and health.