Developing the “male IUD” with Kevin Eisenfrats from Contraline

Developing the “male IUD” with Kevin Eisenfrats from Contraline

Introduction (00:00:00)

  • The first vasectomy was performed in 1897.
  • Every innovation in birth control since then has been created for women to use.
  • Female-focused birth control encouraged women's independence and career success.
  • It placed the responsibility of family planning solely on women.
  • Clinical trials are now focusing on creating long-lasting solutions for male birth control, sometimes referred to as the "male IUD".
  • Contraline is a biotech company developing a long-lasting, reversible male birth control solution.
  • Their lead product, Adam, is a hydrogel implanted into the vas deferens to block sperm.
  • Adam aims to be the first long-lasting, non-hormonal, and easily reversible male contraceptive, similar to the IUD for women.
  • Male birth control options are limited compared to female options.
  • Many men are interested in male birth control, as evidenced by over 1500 men expressing interest in the first clinical trial for Adam.
  • Harsher abortion laws in the US have not lowered interest in birth control.

The challenges to male birth control (00:02:26)

  • Kevin Eisenfrats, founder of Contraline, was inspired to develop a male birth control method after watching the MTV show "16 and Pregnant."
  • He realized that if there was a better alternative to condoms, it could reduce the number of unintended pregnancies.
  • Eisenfrats has been researching and working on male contraception for over 10 years.
  • The science behind male contraception is complex due to the large number of sperm produced compared to the single egg in female contraception.
  • Pharmaceutical companies did not see male birth control as a significant market opportunity compared to female birth control.
  • In recent years, there has been a shift in societal attitudes with women seeking alternatives to hormonal birth control and men expressing a desire for more control over their fertility.

Why hydrogel works (00:06:53)

  • ContraLines research focuses on developing a product called Adam.
  • Adam is a gel or biomaterial inserted into the vas deferens during a vasectomy.
  • Hydrogels are water-soluble polymers that are biocompatible and have been FDA-approved for other applications.
  • ContraLines' hydrogel can last for years but is still reversible.
  • The gel can be removed in a minimally invasive procedure that restores fertility.
  • The procedure is performed in an office setting, mostly by urologists.
  • It is similar to a vasectomy and takes about 30 minutes.
  • The gel is injected into the vas deferens through a small incision.
  • The procedure is minimally invasive and does not require general anesthesia.
  • Patients can return to normal activities within a few days.

Developing ADAM (00:09:35)

  • Contraline, a company developing a male birth control method called Adam, has completed a first-in-human trial in Australia with 25 patients.
  • Adam is a hydrogel injected into the vas deferens to prevent sperm from passing through.
  • The company has raised about $20 million and filed 40 patents related to Adam.
  • Contraline recruited 1,500 men for the clinical trial through social media platforms, indicating significant interest among men in taking responsibility for birth control.

Cultural reaction to ADAM (00:15:08)

  • Contraline, led by Kevin Eisenfrats, is developing a male IUD targeting a younger demographic who have not yet had children.
  • The US market for male contraception is estimated to be worth $10-11 billion, with approximately 13-14 million potential users.
  • Contraline has attracted diverse investors, including Google Ventures, Founders Fund, and women's health funds, who are drawn to the company's vision of transforming society and reproductive rights.
  • The current political climate, with increased restrictions on women's health, has positively impacted Contraline as individuals seek alternative contraceptive options.

Entrepreneurship in medicine (00:20:18)

  • Kevin Eisenfrats, the founder of Contraline, shares his experience of pursuing an entrepreneurial career in medicine instead of becoming a doctor.
  • He believes that he can have a greater impact on society by creating new inventions in medicine through his company than he could as an individual doctor.
  • He emphasizes that he still works closely with doctors and is constantly involved in the medical field, but his approach is focused on creating new devices, procedures, and drugs.
  • Eisenfrats highlights the challenges of pursuing technically difficult endeavors, which often involve setbacks and failures.
  • He views these failures as learning opportunities and emphasizes the importance of persistence.
  • Fundraising is another challenge, as Contraline doesn't fit into a conventional category and requires educating potential investors about their mission.
  • Being the first to pitch venture capitalists on new male contraceptives presented additional challenges, as it was a relatively unexplored area at the time.
  • Regulatory hurdles are also anticipated, as Contraline's product is the first of its kind.

FDA approval process (00:22:39)

  • The FDA approval process for the male IUD involves extensive testing to ensure safety and efficacy.
  • Developing an implantable medical device costs between $75 million and $90 million.
  • Contraline, led by its CEO, has 17 employees, including biomedical engineers and polymer scientists.
  • The company values diversity of thought and hires people they enjoy working with.
  • Contraline focuses on developing a male contraceptive, medical device, and business operations.

What’s next for Contraline (00:28:09)

  • Contraline, a hydrogel company specializing in innovative biomaterials, has been operating with a lean team of 17 full-time employees for almost 10 years.
  • The company prioritizes hiring high performers who thrive on challenging work and provides diverse responsibilities and opportunities for professional development, resulting in low employee turnover.
  • Contraline is currently working towards FDA approval for its male contraceptive product and exploring potential expansion into European markets through partnerships with established companies.
  • The company is also researching different formulations of its existing product, Adam, to create IUDs with varying durations of effectiveness and exploring other applications for its hydrogel technology, including non-hormonal female contraception.
  • Contraline aims to address significant unsolved reproductive health problems rather than developing one-off products in industries with existing solutions.

Host conversation (00:34:23)

  • ContraLine, a company developing a male birth control method, has seen increased interest and demand for their product, with 9,000 men signing up for clinical trials.
  • Australia was chosen for the first clinical trial due to the higher rate of vasectomies performed there, indicating potential interest in male contraception.
  • ContraLine successfully raised $24 million in Series A funding from both traditional biotech and non-biotech investors, demonstrating broad appeal and confidence in their product's potential.
  • The company's founding story originated from watching the MTV show "16 and Pregnant," inspiring the development of a male contraceptive option.
  • ContraLine is currently working on a gel-like substance that can act as a male contraceptive.
  • The political landscape surrounding reproductive health adds complexity to the development and potential success of the male IUD.

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