Research updates
2. New methods of contraception   page 2
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2. Current research Link to the Medical Research Council web site

Figure 3. Global reach: the Contraceptive Development Network (CDN) spans three continents, with close links in University of Cape Town, University of Hong Kong, Shanghai Institute of Family Planning Technical Instruction and at Ogun State University, Sagamu, Nigeria.


Male contraceptives
The CDN is undertaking international biomedical studies to investigate hormonal contraception for men. Encouraging progress has been made towards a safe and acceptable treatment, using an oral progestagen pill in combination with a testosterone implant (you can read about this on page 4). The network is also researching into the contraceptive potential of antigestagens for women.
Male hormonal contraception
Professor Robert Millar is the director of the MRC Human Reproductive Sciences Unit, formally the MRC Reproductive Biology Unit, which is located in the same building in Edinburgh as the co-ordinating centre for the CDN. He is continuing to carry out fundamental research into the pituitary gland and its role in reproduction. Understanding how the gonadotrophic hormones which regulate sperm production are released may, in the long term, lead to new approaches to male contraception (you can read about this on page 5).

Figure 3
Figure 4. Dr Karen Smith




Running trials
Dr Karen Smith is Clinical Trials Project Manager at the Contraceptive Development Network’s co-ordinating centre in Edinburgh. She visits all the overseas centres once a year. It is her job to design, set up, run and report on the international clinical trials in new methods of contraception. She has to ensure that the trials are performed according to the international guidelines for Good Clinical Practice. This is essential if the trials are to satisfy the regulatory authorities.
Another part of Karen’s job is to liaise with the CDN’s collaborators in the pharmaceutical industry. One of the network’s key objectives is to promote promising new contraceptive methods for product development.

Karen has a BSc Hons degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Edinburgh. In her final year she specialised in pharmacology. She gained her PhD at the MRC Reproductive Biology Unit in Edinburgh. She learned to manage international clinical trials working as a Clinical Scientist for the Astra (now AstraZeneca) Clinical Research Unit in Edinburgh.

Question 2

In setting up a clinical trial to assess the potential use of a new method of contraception for men, what practical issues would you need to consider?

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