By Pauline Kairu, Daily Nation 

An exciting global study on male contraception is happening in Kenya.

A phase-two clinical trial, participants in the trial will be required to apply a gel on their shoulders. This gel is intended to lower sperm count to a point at which the men cannot impregnate a woman.

The gel being tested is composed of the hormone nestorone, a progestin hormone commonly used for female contraception, and testosterone. The combination gel, referred to as NES/T within the technical group, is a novel, reversible contraceptive for men designed to be absorbed through the skin on the upper arms and shoulders.

The men in Kenya will join others around the world in using the daily gel for up to 52 weeks to drop their sperm count to zero.

The gel formulation was developed by the Population Council and the US National Institutes of Health’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who works in the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

Kenya is the first African country to be chosen for a study of this type, according to Dr. John Kinuthia, the Kenya site principle investigator for the study and Affiliate Associate Professor in Global Health at University of Washington. Kenya’s NICHD’s Contraceptive Clinical Trials Network (CCTN) site is at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH).

The trial committee will enlist up to 60 couples from Kenya for the study. Globally, more than 420 couples will be recruited to take part in the trial. The sites have already launched in Los Angeles, Seattle and Kansas City in the US. Kenya, Chile, England, Italy, Scotland and Sweden are preparing to start trials within the next month.

“We have done all the regulatory approvals but we’re still in the preparatory stages. Once we are ready in the next couple of weeks we will start enrolling our participants here at KNH,” said Kinuthia.

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