Phil Santangelo, professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University, received a National Institutes of Health (NIH) R61/R33 grant valued at more than $800,000 to develop a new, synthetic mRNA-mediated reversible immunocontraception method.
Currently, 72 percent of women who practice contraception use hormonal methods, but there is frequent dissatisfaction with these methods, due to quality of life and safety concerns. “There is a clear need for new approaches to non-hormonal female contraceptives that are easy to use by women, and have a controllable duration of action,” said Santangelo.
His team’s reversible immunocontraception offers a non-hormonal solution, where antisperm antibodies are introduced into the female reproductive tract (FRT) and inhibit sperm function. They have identified an anti-sperm antibody with well-characterized mechanisms of action that impact fertility, and an innovative method has been identified to deliver the antibody to the FRT. They will use a synthetic mRNA-based approach to deliver their sperm agglutinating and mucus trapping antibody to the FRT.
Santangelo’s short-term goals are to optimize the approach, improve their overall understanding of the method and its biological interactions, and demonstrate pre-clinical feasibility. If successful, this method will create a new paradigm for contraception that is non-hormonal, reversible, and easy to use.
Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering
Georgia Institute of Technology