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Contraceptive vaccines targeting sperm.

Authors
  • Suri, Anil
Type
Published Article
Journal
Expert Opinion on Biological Therapy
Publisher
Informa UK (Ashley Publications)
Publication Date
Mar 01, 2005
Volume
5
Issue
3
Pages
381–392
Identifiers
PMID: 15833075
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Overpopulation is a global problem of significant magnitude, with grave implications for the future. Development of new contraceptives is necessary, as existing forms of birth control are unavailable, impractical and/or too expensive for many individuals due to sociological, financial or educational limitations. Immunocontraception and, in particular, the targeting of antibodies to sperm-specific antigens implicated in sperm-egg binding and fertilisation offers an attractive approach to control fertility. Sperm-specific antibodies may impair fertility by inhibiting sperm motility, by reducing penetration of the cervical mucus by sperm, or by interfering in sperm capacitation or the acrosome reaction; alternatively, antisperm antibodies may invoke the complement cascade, resulting in sperm lysis. The antibodies raised against sperm-specific antigens have proved to be extremely effective at reducing sperm-egg interactions in vitro; fertility trials in subhuman primates will eventually be needed to prove the effectiveness of the sperm antigens in terms of contraceptive efficacy before trials in humans can be justified. In addition, existing and emerging strategies (such as sperm proteomics, the determination of molecular and structural details of sperm proteins, and the modelling of protein-ligand interactions using X-ray and/or NMR structures to name a few) are expected to provide the experimental foundation for the design of small molecule inhibitors with antifertility effects. The technology underpinning vaccine development is constantly being developed and the introduction of DNA/RNA vaccines is certain to impact upon the field of immunocontraception.

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