Researchers from the universities of Minnesota and Kansas believe that the substance ouabain can be the basis for male pharmacological contraception. Uabain is found in the leaves, roots and stems of one of the bushes that grow in Africa. Usually it is used by African hunters as a poison, which they smear their arrows. Once in the animal’s body, the substance stops his heart.
In the 18th century, it was found that in small doses, uabain was used to treat hypotension and arrhythmia. And four years ago, scientists found that toxin reduces the activity of spermatozoa and blocks the possibility of fertilization. Then the substance was not tested as a contraceptive because of its effect on the heart, but now American chemists claim that they could modify the toxin so that it does not affect the heart, but retains its remaining properties in full.
Scientists removed a group of sugars from the molecule of uabain and replaced the lactone group with a triazole group. The resulting modification affects only the flagella of spermatozoa, which reduces their mobility, leading to temporary infertility.
Now scientists are engaged in studies of modified uabain, therefore in the near future the appearance of new contraceptives on sale is not expected.