Research Highlight

Double-edged spermicides

doi:10.1038/nindia.2011.2 Published online 19 January 2011

Researchers have designed hybrid organic compounds that destroy sperm cells and prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infection (STI). The compounds also curtail the risk of HIV infection.

STIs increase the risk of HIV infection. Women may also get affected by reproductive tract infections like candidiasis that are not sexually transmitted.

To design active spermicides, the researchers produced hybrid molecules using phenylpropanamine and metronidazole structures. The compounds were evaluated in vitro for their spermicidal, antitrichomonas and anticandida activities as well as their safety against vaginal micro flora and cervical cells.

All the 25 compounds tested showed spermicidal activity as they immobilized 40–100% normal human sperm cells. Ten compounds caused 100% immobilization while six compounds caused 90–95% immobilization of human sperm at 1% concentration.

Of the 25 compounds, 14 were found to be active against Trichomonas vaginalis, a microorganism that inhabits the genital tract of women. All compounds were evaluated for their safety towards human cervical cell line and vaginal flora. Most compounds were highly safe.

The study has resulted in the discovery of a new structural class that may lead to a potent microbicidal spermicide, the researchers say.


  1. Kumar, L. et al. Design and synthesis of 3-(azol-1-yl) phenylpropanes as microbicidal spermicides for prophylactic contraception. Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 21, 176-181 (2011) | Article | PubMed |