The Aga Khan University is in consultations with Institute of Primate Research (IPR), a quasi government institution, on how the study is to be conducted.
“At the moment, there is unmet need of a good spermicide in the market and that is why we are interested in testing this candidate establish if it could help fill this gap,” says Prof William Stones, the Chair, Obstetric and Gynaecology department at Aga Khan University.
Spermicides are used to kill or damage the sperms by sometimes making the vaginal environment acidic, which is a pH level below 5.0. Sperms survive in alkaline conditions of pH levels of more than 7.0.
Modern While they give women the power to use the contraceptive without their husband’s knowledge, studies have found spermicides to be least effective in the category of modern contraceptives in preventing pregnancy, especially when used alone.
Doctors advise women to use emergency contraception if the spermicide was used incorrectly.
Family Health International in one of its publication says that if used repeatedly, most spermicides irritate the vaginal lining, increasing a woman susceptibility to HIV infection.
That is why the Aga Khan University want to find out the appropriateness of this spermicide.
According to Prof Stones, they want to subject the contraceptive to semen and sperms collected from the humans to find out its effect on sperm function and the product’s suitability in inactivating the sperms.
The other focus is to establish the right concentration and volume of the contraceptive required to kill the sperm,s but safe to the vaginal tissues.
The contraceptive has been developed by Dr Peter Mwethera, head of IPR’s Department of Reproductive Health and Biology. A patent to protect the innovation had been acquired from the Kenya Industrial Property Institute.
Studies in the primates conducted at IPR have shown the contraceptive to work in disabling the sperm of the baboons. But the effect of the contraceptive on human sperm is yet to be known.
“While the baboon’s genetic makeup has a high similarity with that of human beings, the response of the contraceptive to the human sperm might not be the same as was the case in the primates. That is what we want to find out,” Prof Stones explains.
Prof Stones adds that if the laboratory test on the human sperm is successful, the study will move to human trials. At this stage, a small number of women and men volunteers who are not sexually active will be recruited.
Source: Daily Nation