Within this Program area, the goal of the CDDB is to promote contraceptive research and development for preventing or reducing unintended pregnancies by:
- Developing new male and female contraceptive methods that employ hormonal and non-hormonal agents
- Developing new hormonal methods for emergency contraception
- Supporting contraceptive research and development that may lead to new methods for inhibiting ovulation, fertilization, or spermatogenesis
- Conducting experimental studies in animals and clinical trials in humans to determine optimal formulations and dosages of contraceptive agents
Contraceptive research and development is critical for providing safer, more efficacious methods of preventing unintended pregnancies, especially in light of the continued growth of the global population. Although a range of contraceptive methods is currently available, the proportion of unintended pregnancies in the United States still approximates 50 percent of all pregnancies. The CDDB recognizes that part of this problem results from failure to use available methods because of an individual’s dissatisfaction with those methods, illustrating the critical need for contraceptive methods that enhance use by meeting the diverse needs of women and men throughout their reproductive lives. Having a variety of contraceptive methods available for widespread use that recognize and meet the needs of individuals with different ethnicities, cultures, and religious values, but adapt as the needs of individuals change over time would be ideal, and it is to this optimal situation that the Branch strives.
The Branch uses a variety of funding mechanisms to promote contraceptive research and development. New ideas are generated by the Contraceptive Development Research Centers Program, the Male Contraceptive Development Program, by staff generation of research contracts for new contraceptive leads, through conferences, and by investigator-initiated grants. Selected new contraceptive leads move forward with assistance from one of the Branch’s support contractors. For instance, the Chemical Synthesis and Peptide Synthesis Facilities prepare compounds for the Branch and for other extramural scientists involved in contraceptive research. The Medicinal Chemistry Facility pursues integrated structure- based drug design/discovery and optimization encompassing screening, structural biology, modeling, and synthesis. The Biological Testing Facility studies biological activity, pharmacology, and toxicology of compounds of interest. The Contraceptive Clinical Trials Network conducts Phase I through Phase III trials of promising contraceptives developed from Branch-sponsored projects and from other investigators.