Fifty years after the advent of the birth control pill, a small group of Oklahomans are working to develop a hormone-free version for men. Dr. Kevin Moore, a scientist at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, identified two enzymes in 1998. Moore discovered if he removed the enzyme from male mice, they were infertile. The mice still produced sperm, but it wouldn’t fertilize female eggs, he said.
The enzyme is nearly identical to a similar enzyme found in humans. Moore and a colleague founded a biotech company, Siwa Biotech Corporation. The group is working to develop an oral contraceptive for men that would inhibit this enzyme. "They use the word revolutionary from a social standpoint” for the female pill, Moore said. "I don’t anticipate that, but it certainly will give couples other choices.” Unlike the female pill, the pill Moore’s team is working on wouldn’t affect hormone levels. That translates to fewer side effects, he said. But creating the pill is a challenge. Moore’s company has four employees and is funded by grants and private investments. "We have to move slowly and deliberately,” he said. "Money doesn’t grow on trees, especially in this economy.”