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Scientists move closer to search for male contraceptive pill




Discover onion compound to suppress ovarian
cancer cell proliferation

Scientists have made a major breakthrough in the search for a male contraceptive pill, which could transform the sex lives of millions of couples. They have also discovered an onion ‘cure’ for ovarian cancer.British scientists have found the secret of making men temporarily infertile – by ‘switching off’ sperm’s ability to swim.

According to the study first reported at the weekend by DailyMailUK, the researchers made tiny ‘designer compounds’ which smuggle themselves into sperm, and stop their tails from wiggling. If a sperm cannot swim, it has no chance of naturally fertilising a woman’s egg.

Lead researcher, Prof. John Howl of Wolverhampton University, described how effective their sperm-stopping agent had been in lab tests.He said: “The results are startling – and almost instant. When you take healthy sperm and add our compound, within a few minutes, the sperm basically cannot move.”

Male infertility is often the result of poorly moving sperm, called ‘low motility’. Using this, the Wolverhampton team, together with Portuguese researchers, made a compound called a cell-penetrating peptide, which gets inside sperm and brings them to a standstill. Howl further said: “This is a totally unique approach – nobody else has ever done this before.”

Meanwhile, family planning experts at the weekend said a reversible male contraceptive could benefit millions of couples where the woman cannot take the pill for medical reasons.

They said it would save men from being trapped into having children they did not want.Also, a new study has found that a compound found in onions has anti-ovarian cancer effects.

The research comes from Kumamoto University in Japan and is published in Scientific Reports.According to the team, a 2014 review from the World Health Organisation (WHO) showed that epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) is the most common type of the disease. With a five-year survival rate of approximately 40 per cent, effective treatments for the illness are needed.

Previous studies had shown that onions are low in calories and high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. This pungent vegetable has previously been cited for its health benefits, including lowering risk of certain cancers and helping with depression.

It has also been shown that about 80 per cent of patients with EOC have a relapse after initial chemotherapy treatment. As such, the researchers looked into the effects that a natural compound in onions – called onion in A, or ONA – has on EOC.

After examining the effects of ONA on a preclinical model of EOC in cells, the researchers found that the growth of EOCs slowed down after the team introduced ONA.

They also discovered that ONA inhibited pro-tumor activities of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC), which the researchers say are linked with the suppression of the anti-tumor immune response of host lymphocytes.

Furthermore, they found that ONA enhanced anti-cancer drugs’ effects by boosting their anti-proliferation ability.The researchers say their study demonstrates that ONA slows progression of ovarian cancer tumors by interrupting myeloid cells’ pro-tumor activity.

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