Monoclonal antibodies are known for their ability to fight off invading germs and are used to treat and prevent everything from cancer to COVID-19. Scientists are now looking at a new mission for antibodies: immobilizing sperm before it can reach an egg.
Carolina researchers have engineered ultra-potent antibodies that, during animal testing, effectively trapped and blocked more than 99.9% of human sperm. The promising study results published in Science Translational Medicine suggest contraceptives based on antibodies may offer women a non-hormonal option to prevent pregnancy.
“Many women avoid hormonal contraception because of real and perceived side effects,” said Samuel Lai, professor in the Division of Pharmacoengineering and Molecular Pharmaceutics at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy.
These effects can include irregular bleeding, nausea, depression, weight gain and migraines. And for some women estrogen-based hormonal contraception can be harmful.
“There’s a major unmet need for alternative, non-hormonal contraceptives for women,” said Lai.
Source: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill