Male Contraceptive Initiative marks Women’s History Month with investment in birth control pill for men

Male Contraceptive Initiative has invested $500,000 in YourChoice Therapeutics, a San Francisco biotech startup, developing the first hormone-free male birth control pill.

YCT-529’s first-in-human study is fully enrolled and represents a milestone in advancing reproductive health equity for men and women. More contraceptive options for men promotes shared responsibility for pregnancy prevention, impacting societal norms that have historically placed the burden of pregnancy prevention on women.

“Women’s History Month celebrates women’s achievements and offers a platform for discussing gender inequities, including contraceptive imbalances,” said Heather Vahdat, Executive Director of Male Contraceptive Initiative. “Pregnancy prevention is often viewed as ‘a woman’s job,’ and there are pills, patches, and devices aplenty while men’s options are extremely limited. A birth control pill for men would spark a dramatic shift that would promote shared responsibility, which we believe would foster a brighter future for women worldwide.

”We’re proud to support YourChoice Therapeutics’ continued success with what is currently the most advanced hormone-free male pill. We hope YCT-529’s continued success will help upend long-held biases and create a future defined by reproductive equality.”

YCT-529 is a hormone-free birth control candidate currently under investigation in a Phase 1a human clinical study. The oral drug candidate prevents sperm production by blocking access to retinoic acid – a form of vitamin A – in male testes, a mechanism that has been validated in multiple independent studies.

The Phase 1a clinical study for YCT-529 began in December 2023 and includes 16 male volunteers. NIH-funded preclinical studies show YCT-529 was 99% effective and 100% reversible with no side effects.

“The future of birth control is hormone-free,” said Akash Bakshi, co-founder and CEO of YourChoice Therapeutics. “While the pill for women revolutionized birth control and remains valuable to their reproductive freedom, women have endured the side effects of hormones for more than 60 years. It’s time for men to step up, and we aim to help. We made history when we began testing the 1st hormone-free birth control candidate for men in human studies. And we’re grateful to Male Contraceptive Initiative for their support and funding which made this milestone possible. We share their vision for reproductive equality and welcome their continued support and leadership.”

Data show most men and women believe contraception is a shared responsibility. While researchers have envisioned a male birth control pill for decades, past attempts relied on suppressing testosterone to prevent sperm production. Testosterone, however, is linked to undesirable side effects: increased cardiovascular disease risk, weight gain, acne, mood changes and decreased libido. As a hormone-free male pill, YCT-529 could offer a more attractive option for men seeking convenient, reversible, effective birth control without these negative side effects.

About YCT-529
Researchers have understood for decades that vitamin A is essential for male fertility. YCT-529 is a retinoic acid receptor-alpha inhibitor that prevents production of sperm cells in the testes as well as their release by blocking RAR-alpha (one of three nuclear receptors that bind retinoic acid, a form of vitamin A). Several preclinical studies have shown YCT-529 is 99% effective at preventing mouse pregnancies and 100% reversible. YourChoice Therapeutics developed YCT-529 in collaboration with Dr. Gunda Georg, a globally recognized medicinal chemist and awardee of one of the largest NIH-funded Contraceptive Centers. Male Contraceptive Initiative (MCI) has been committed to funding both the early research as well as YCT-529’s Phase 1a clinical trial in men, which is underway at Quotient Sciences in the UK.

More information about the trial can be found at clinicaltrials.gov, NCT06094283.