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Drugs. 2005;65(5):593-603.

Contraceptive vaccines.

Author information

1
Division of Research, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Medical College of Ohio, Toledo, Ohio 43614-5806, USA. Rnaz@mco.edu

Abstract

The world's population is growing at a tremendous rate, affecting growth and development. Apart from this population growth, unintended pregnancies resulting in elective abortions continue to be a major public health issue. In over half of these unintended pregnancies, the women have used some type of contraception. Thus, there is an urgent need for a better method of contraception that is acceptable, effective and available. The contraceptive choices available to women at this time include steroid contraceptives, intrauterine devices, barrier methods, spermicides, natural family planning, male and female sterilisation, and recently available emergency contraceptives. Contraceptive vaccines (CVs) may provide viable and valuable alternatives that can fulfill most, if not all, properties of an ideal contraceptive. Since both the developed and most of the developing nations have an infrastructure for mass immunisation, the development of vaccines for contraception is an exciting proposition. The molecules that are being explored for CV development either target gamete production (gonadotropin releasing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinising hormone), gamete function (zona pellucida [ZP] proteins and sperm antigens) or gamete outcome (human chorionic gonadotropin [hCG]). Disadvantages of CVs targeting gamete production are that they affect sex steroids and/or show only a partial effect in reducing fertility. CVs targeting gamete function are better choices. Vaccines based on ZP proteins are quite efficacious in producing contraceptive effects. However, they invariably induce oophoritis affecting sex steroids. Sperm antigens constitute the most promising and exciting targets for CVs. Several sperm-specific antigens have been delineated in several laboratories and are being actively explored for CV development. Antisperm antibody-mediated immunoinfertility provides a naturally occurring model to indicate how an antisperm vaccine will work in humans. Vaccines targeting gamete outcome primarily focus on the hCG molecule. The hCG vaccine is the first vaccine to undergo phase I and II clinical trials in humans. Both the efficacy and the lack of immunotoxicity have been reasonably well demonstrated for this vaccine. The present studies focus on increasing the immunogenicity and efficacy of this birth control vaccine.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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