Human Embryo Models Research Paves Way for Nonhormonal Contraception

Pharmacy Times, February 2022, Volume 88, Issue 2

Investigators used SC144, an FDA-approved molecule, to find a new pathway for a generation of nonhormonal contraceptives.

Investigators from the institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences found that certain molecules could be candidates for contraceptives or fertility enhancers. The team used SC144, an FDA-approved molecule, to find a new pathway for a generation of nonhormonal contraceptives. These pills can be taken only if necessary, removing the burden and stress associated with medications that need to be taken daily, and the need for an occasional dose might result in significantly fewer adverse effects compared with a daily hormonal pill.

Using new technology, the investigators stimulated human stem cells to efficiently self-organize into realistic models of the earliest stages of embryonic development. The in vitro models, or blastoids, allowed them to begin studying the basic principles of early human development. The blastoids were then cultured for up to 13 days, at which point they contained approximately 300 cells.

The investigators also used blastoids to discover a new effect of a natural molecule, LPA, which strongly improves the self-organization of the stem cells and might be used to boost the formation of natural embryos during in-vitro fertilization procedures. This new technology could significantly improve understanding of the early stages of pregnancy and can also provide an ethical alternative to the use of fertilized human eggs for research.

Reference

Breakthrough research on human embryo models paves the way for improving in vitro fertilization success rate and new non-hormonal, user-friendly contraception. EurekAlert. December 2, 2021. Accessed January 10, 2022. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/936588