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Male Birth Control, Brought to You By Indiegogo

A new "Pill" for men is being tested, but only with help from a surprising source.

A new male contraceptive is making some headway, and while this may not be news by itself (Gendarussa and Eppin are both under way, as well), there’s something unique about this one—it’s being crowd-funded on Indiegogo

Today, a poll conducted at The Telegraph found that more than half of men “can’t wait” to try male contraceptives, while about a quarter said they were uncertain, and another quarter said they would not use the pill. With popularity potential like this, it makes sense that researchers are turning to the public for support of their work. 

The drug will be researched by Dr. Gary Flynn (and scientists at Stanford University), whose proposal was recommended by North Carolina’s Male Contraception Initiative after a review of several different proposals. The Indiegogo campaign seeks to raise about $100,000 towards research, with stretch goals for two other teams developing male contraceptives. 

Flynn’s pill will work by targeting a protein that operates almost exclusively in the testes, where it helps to build sperm correctly. The protein appears in extremely tiny amounts in the brain, lungs, and some muscles, but only at a few millionths of the rate at which it appears in the testes, so researchers don’t believe it would be harmful to inhibit it’s function. 

Unlike many of the contraceptives popular with women, male contraceptives are typically not hormonal. Women are born with most of their eggs already developed, so a drug that altered them would cause permanent damage. But men produce new sperm throughout their lives. For this reason, scientists believe men can safely alter their sperm with the pill and then resume making normal sperm once they stop. 

The drug is currently being tested for safety and effectiveness on animals as researchers work on modifying the drug for humans. 

This research comes 55 years after the release of the first oral contraceptives for women, which were also funded by donors—if not on an online crowd-funding site best known for funding craft breweries and sci-fi flicks. Want to get in on it? You can pick up rewards like a virtual high-five or a t-shirt showing your support for the cause. And if you have $10,000 to throw in, you can have dinner with the sponsors.  

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