Prof Chris Barratt receives funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation

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The quest of researchers at the University of Dundee to develop a new male contraceptive has been boosted with a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Researchers say the $900,000-plus award will enable significant progress to be made over the next two years in the discovery and development of the first safe and effective male contraceptive drug.

The University of Dundee is uniquely positioned to pursue this project. It combines the internationally recognised expertise in male fertility research in the School of Medicine with world-class robotic high-throughput imaging facilities at the National Phenotypic Screening Centre and the deep knowledge of drug design, synthesis and safety testing present in the Drug Discovery Unit, both within the School of Life Sciences.

Chris Barratt, Professor of Reproductive Medicine in the School of Medicine, said, “No effective, reversible and widely available form of contraception has been developed for the male since the condom and, as such, the burden falls largely to the female.

“Progress towards a male contraceptive has been slow because this is a highly neglected area of medical research. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has quite rightly recognised the problem and is investing in efforts to remedy the deficit. This is against the backdrop of a world where it is estimated that more than 214 million women in developing countries have an unmet need for contraception.

“According to the Guttmacher Institute, this results in 89 million unintended pregnancies and 48 million abortions every year, often pushing women into life choices that increase poverty and pose severe health risks. The development of a drug for the male directly addresses a critical gap in the contraceptive portfolio.”

 

Pictured are Prof Barratt, left, and Dr Paul Andrews of the School of Life Sciences at the University of Dundee