A Birth Control Vaccine is on the Horizon for Family Planning
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Vaccines for control of fertility are likely to have an important impact on family planning methods. They are designed to act by mobilization of an internal physiological process and do not require external medication on a continuous basis. A number of birth control vaccines are at different stages of development, the most advanced being a vaccine inducing antibodies against human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG). This vaccine consists of a heterospecies dimer (HSD, beta hCG associated with alpha-subunit of ovine luteinizing hormone, beta hCG:alpha oLH) linked to tetanus toxoid (TT) or diphtheria toxoid (DT) as carriers. The vaccine has recently passed an important milestone; it has completed the first leg of phase II efficacy trials. Women of proven fertility leading active sexual life were protected from becoming pregnant at antibody titres > or = 50 ng of hCG bioneutralization capacity per ml. This vaccine has previously been demonstrated to be reversible in its effect. It is free from any notable side-effects on endocrine, cardiovascular and other body functions. Ovulation was not disturbed and menstrual regularity was maintained. A logistic disadvantage of the present vaccine is the requirement for multiple injections. This is expected to be overcome by encapsulation of the requisite doses of the vaccine in biodegradable microspheres, which could be given at a single contact point for sustained antibody titres lasting over a year. A live recombinant vaccine has also been made that elicits high anti-hCG titres in monkeys for nearly 2 years following primary immunization and a booster at 8-9 months.
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