Durham, NC & Bar Harbor, ME - Male Contraceptive Initiative (MCI), a private non-profit foundation, announced five grants, including a grant to Dr. Robert Braun, Professor and Janeway Distinguished Chair at The Jackson Laboratory (JAX), to support research and development of male contraceptive methods, raising MCI’s total commitment to male contraception to over $5 million USD since 2017.
Dr. Braun will receive $150,000 to aid his work towards developing a novel form of male contraception alongside collaborators at Weill Cornell Medicine. The project focuses on using video capture and artificial intelligence (AI) to assess the efficacy of a short-acting male contraceptive.
Dr. Braun explains, “The development of an on-demand non-hormonal male contraceptive would provide an unmet need for couples and individuals either not able or willing to use female contraceptives or physical barriers like condoms. Modeling a male contraceptive in mice is limited by current knowledge of the latency and frequency of mounting and intromission during standard breeding experiments. Our collaborators, Drs. Lonny Levin and Jochen Buck, have in development reversible, dose- and time-dependent pharmacological agents against soluble adenylyl cyclase, an enzyme required for sperm function. The David Sokal Innovation Award from Male Contraceptive Initiative will allow us to develop video monitoring and automated analysis of mating behavior to assist in testing the efficacy of these pharmacological inhibitors. Development of machine learning-assisted automation of video recordings of murine breeding behavior will inform the efficacy of on-demand contraceptive modeling in mice, detect alterations in mating behavior related to drug or vehicle injection, and possibly reveal novel mating behaviors during normal breeding environments or after drug exposure.”
With over $5 million invested in male contraceptive product development, MCI seeks to push male contraceptive research projects towards commercialization. There are a variety of male contraceptive research projects in the drug development pipeline; from early stage screening of drugs to studies that pave the way for early clinical trials. MCI’s mission is to facilitate research and development of male contraceptives for people around the world, and to build awareness among researchers, donors and the general public about the demand for and status of novel male contraceptive methods.
Through its funding efforts, the non-profit has championed this mission in manifold ways: investing in promising product development through this and other rounds of funding, supporting students and young professionals through fellowships and travel grants, and consistently advocating with the public and media for an increased method mix that includes male contraception. “More and more men are expressing the desire to participate in contraception with their partners. We are confident that the time is right to emphatically get behind the talent and energy in the field in order to achieve a real vision for a shared contraceptive future,” said MCI Executive Director Heather Vahdat.
About Male Contraceptive Initiative: Male Contraceptive Initiative works to bring new male contraceptives to market. We accomplish this through direct funding, technical support, research, and advocacy. We believe that couples deserve more contraceptive options and that we offer the biggest potential impact for them by focusing on male contraceptives. It’s time men are given more opportunities to contribute toward family planning.
About The Jackson Laboratory: The Jackson Laboratory is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institution with more than 2,300 employees. Headquartered in Bar Harbor, Maine, it has a National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center, a genomic medicine institute in Farmington, Conn., and facilities in Ellsworth and Augusta, Maine, in Sacramento, Calif., and in Shanghai, China. Its mission is to discover precise genomic solutions for disease and empower the global biomedical community in the shared quest to improve human health. For more information, please visit www.jax.org.