Durham, NC - Male Contraceptive Initiative (MCI), a private non-profit foundation, announced a David Sokal Innovation Award grant to Dr. Rahima Benhabbour an assistant professor in the UNC/NC State Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering and an adjunct professor at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, to support research and development of male contraceptive methods. This raises MCI’s total commitment to male contraception to nearly $6 million USD since 2017.
Dr. Benhabbour will receive $150,000 to aid her work towards developing long-acting delivery systems for male contraceptives. Specifically, the project focuses on using a novel long-acting implant that can be injected under the skin, forming a reversible implant that can deliver male contraceptives over a sustained period.
Dr. Benhabbour explains, “We are excited to develop an LA in-situ forming implant (ISFI)-based drug delivery system of non-hormonal male contraceptive(s) (NH-MC(s)) that can address the limitations of short-acting NH-MCs. The ISFIs will be injected subcutaneously to form a biodegradable drug/polymer implant and provide sustained and controlled delivery of a non-hormonal male contraceptive. These implants can be safely removed to terminate contraception or in the case of an undesired side effect or allergic response.”
The David Sokal Innovation Awards from Male Contraceptive Initiative are named after the co-founder of Male Contraceptive Initiative, Dr. David Sokal, MD, who has consistently advocated for contraceptive innovation over a long career in contraception and health. Sokal Awards are intended to spur new avenues of thinking in contraceptive development as well as public understanding.
With nearly $6 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 multiple 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 general public and media for an increased method mix that includes male contraception in order for all people to attain reproductive autonomy.
“The number of men and their partners expressing the desire for male contraceptive options continues to increase. Part of MCI’s dedication to accelerating product development includes thinking proactively about how to ensure a variety of delivery options. We are pleased to be able to get behind the talent and energy of Dr. Benhabbour 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.
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