Eppin Pharma Lands $800,000 to Support Male Contraceptive Trials
Durham pharmaceutical company Eppin Pharma has secured a new investment that moves the company closer to starting clinical trials for its male contraceptive pill.
The Male Contraceptive Initiative, a national nonprofit based in Durham, is investing up to $800,000 to establish a proof of concept for the safety and feasibility of Eppin’s short-term, reversible, non-hormonal oral male contraceptive. It marks MCI’s second funding in Eppin, following a 2019 initial grant.
“We are grateful to MCI for their dedication to supporting innovation in male contraception and for recognizing the transformative potential of our work,” said Michael O’Rand, Ph.D., Eppin president and CEO. “At Eppin Pharma, we are dedicated to developing new options for men who desire to take control of their fertility and we look forward to advancing our method to clinical trials in the near future.”
Eppin received a $75,000 Small Business Research Loan from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center in 2019 and a $225,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health in 2020. O’Rand, a retired researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, led the spinout of Eppin from UNC in 2014.
The company’s product in development is a small organic compound that impacts the sperm’s ability to function. It works by binding to EPPIN, a protein on the surface of human sperm. The drug is intended to be fast-acting without affecting sperm production. Eppin says that because its drug development is based on testing with human sperm samples, its potential for success outside the laboratory setting is increased.
MCI said its grant will help establish the feasibility of the contraceptive method before Eppin moves to a larger efficacy study on the path toward regulatory approval.
“Eppin Pharma is a particularly exciting investment opportunity as they have been integral at advancing the non-hormonal male contraceptive field,” said Heather Vahdat, MCI’s executive director. Eppin is working to “revolutionize family planning by providing reproductive equity to men who still have to rely on only two methods of birth control: condoms and vasectomy,” she said.
MCI has invested more than $10 million in product development for male contraceptive research projects.