The article by N.W. Pirie (The Scientist, January 26, 1987, p. 19) calls for a renewed search for novel methods of birth control. Pirie is right in highlighting this as a neglected area worth more attention than it currently receives. Spermicides are a logical choice to interrupt fertility, and the only major drawback of current products is a moderate failure rate. Pirie rightly points to the need to aggressively apply insights into sperm function to contraceptive development.

As Pine suggests, interfering with hyaluronidase, the sperm enzyme that allows penetration of the outer ovum vestments, may be particularly appropriate. From his research in the 1940s, the concept of preventing sperm penetration of the ovum by enzyme inhibition has emerged. Considerable work has since been done. A good review is L.J.D. Zaneveld's article in Research Frontiers in Fertility Regulation, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 1-14, 1982.

Present vaginal contraceptives...

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