LOS ANGELES (May 3, 2010) - As the birth control pill marks its 50th birthday this month, Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute (LA BioMed) announced today that it has received $1.5 million in grant funding to study a contraceptive for men that uses a combination of two hormonal gels applied to the skin of the arm and abdomen.
The Food and Drug Administration approved the birth control pill on May 9, 1960, giving women greater control over their reproductive choices and their lives.
Drs. Christina Wang and Ronald Swerdloff are LA BioMed principal investigators and directors of one of only two of the National Institutes of Health centers dedicated to clinical research on male contraceptives. They have conducted several studies of male contraceptives, including the current one.
Dr. Swerdloff, the director of the LA BioMed at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center's Male Contraceptive Clinical Trials Center, says the development of a male contraceptive will change men's view of their health and their role in reproductive decisions.
"Just as women gained greater control over their reproductive choices and their health with the advent of the birth control pill, a male contraceptive would get men more involved in their personal health care and would give them greater reproductive choices," said Dr. Swerdloff. "Men are less likely than women to see their physicians on a regular basis. If they relied on a male contraceptive prescribed by their doctor, men would be more likely to visit their physicians on a regular basis - as women on birth control pills currently do."
At LA BioMed, Drs. Wang and Swerdloff are currently enrolling 60 men between the ages of 18 and 50 in a study of a combination of hormonal gels applied to the arm and abdomen to see if they will decrease a man's sperm concentration and count to levels that would make him unable to cause a pregnancy.
The research volunteers should not wish to father a child during the course of the study. The study will compare two treatments - combined Nesterone ® Gel and Testosterone Gel - to the use of Testosterone Gel alone to suppress sperm production in normal men.
"Male contraceptive clinical trials have tested the use of testosterone alone or with progestins to suppress the production of sperm in men in the short-term studies with fewer side effects," Dr. Wang said. "However, the use of an application of testosterone and a progestin on the skin as a potential way to deliver the hormones to the body has not been tested. This trial is a study of a testosterone gel, which was developed with testing at LA BioMed, to be used with a progestin gel called Nestorone to suppress sperm production. Upon stopping the application of the gel, the sperm production will return to the normal range."
Drs. Wang and Swerdloff are two of the world's leading experts on male contraception, infertility and reproductive health. Dr. Wang is the program director of the General Clinical Research Center at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and president of the International Society of Andrology, an organization of 10,000 andrologists worldwide. The society seeks to disseminate knowledge and promote basic and clinical research in andrology, the study of male reproductive health.
Previously, she served as president of the American Society of Andrology (2006-2007), secretary of the International Society of Andrology (2001-2005), program chair of the International Congress of Andrology (2009) and the chair of the World Health Organization's Task Force on Methods for the Regulation of Male Infertility (1991 to 2002).
She also was featured in People magazine as the physician who provided the medical assistance that helped former ice skating champion Scott Hamilton conceive a child after cancer treatments impaired his reproductive abilities.
Dr. Swerdloff is the chief of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center's Division of Endocrinology. He has received numerous previous awards, including the Endocrine Society's Distinguished Educator Award, the Distinguished Andrologist Award from the American Society of Andrology, The Most Outstanding Faculty Award at UCLA and the Outstanding West Coast Investigator from the Western Society of Clinical Investigation.
Dr. Swerdloff has served in leadership roles for many regional and national societies, including the American Society of Andrology (President) and The Endocrine Society (Associate Editor, the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism).
He was a long-time member of the Methods for Regulation of Fertility task force of the World Health Organization and has served as an adviser to China and India to oversee the development of specialized research centers on male contraception.
He also has served as the director of the UCLA Population Research Center, the UCLA World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Research in Human Reproduction, the Mellon Center for Men's Health and the National Institutes of Health Contraceptive Clinical Trials Center.
The LA BioMed study is supported by National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Grant No. HHSN275200403369I to Ronald Swerdloff, MD, Center director, and by Grant No. HHSN275200800044U to Christina Wang, MD, project principal investigator. For more information or to participate in the clinical trial, please contact 310.222.8191. Volunteers will be compensated for their time and travel.
About LA BioMed
Founded in 1952, LA BioMed is one of the country's leading nonprofit independent biomedical research institutes. It has more than 150 fulltime and part-time researchers conducting studies into improved treatments and cures for cancer, inherited diseases, infectious diseases, illnesses caused by environmental factors and more. It also educates young scientists and provides community services, including immunization and childhood nutrition programs. LA BioMed is academically affiliated with the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and located on the campus of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. For more information, please visit www.LABioMed.org