In theory, it shouldn’t be too difficult to protect oneself against HIV and other STIs, as well as pregnancy. Condoms, after all, are very effective. But in practice, it’s not so simple. Many of the people at high risk for HIV, for instance, are women who don’t have much control over whether their partners wear protection. Taking daily medication or applying drug-laden gels also have their downsides—people forget, they find it inconvenient, there’s social stigma. So finding ways to provide protection thats get over these hurdles is an important research goal.
Scientists at the University of Washington think a new delivery platform may be a step in the right direction. They’ve created nanofibers embedded with pre-existing drugs against HIV-1, HIV-2, and sperm. Theoretically, these stretchy microfabrics could be inserted into the vagina directly or on the surface of another device, such as a vaginal ring, and act as both a physical and chemical barrier. The real kicker is the fact that the nanofiber can release the drugs slowly, so the device could protect women against STIs for an extended period of time after insertion.
Hey baby, I take my pill every day…if you know what I mean
Women can choose from a plethora of reversible birth control options, including diaphragms, IUDs, and the Pill. On the other hand, when men want to be responsible without resorting to permanent infertility, they have only one choice: condoms. But a new study has found a compound that may hold the key to a reversible male birth control pill.
The manufacturers of any male pill face the daunting task of restraining the production of about 1,000 sperm per second. To create all those sperm, the testes depend on, among other things, a protein called bromodomain, or BRDT. It was this protein that researchers decided to hobble, using a compound called JQ1 can pass from the blood into the testes and bind to BRDT, preventing the molecule from carrying out its usual duties and the testes from producing viable sperm.
We mentioned on Monday that Bill Gates was giving $300,000 to a geoengineering scheme that would shoot seawater skyward to seed clouds. But the billionaire doesn’t just wanted to save the planet and stop the AIDS crisis—he would also like to improve your sex life.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funded 78 promising but offbeat projects this week, one of those gifts being $100,000 to James Tsuruta and Paul Dayton of the University of North Carolina to pursue their idea of using ultrasound as a temporary and reversible male contraceptive.
Ultrasound produces a mild heating that appears to disable sperm cells and deplete the supply of stem cells that are required to replenish sperm reserves in the testes. Post-treatment images of the rat testes showed the tubules inside the testes completely lacking in sperm with almost no immature stem cells [The Times].