Visakhapatnam: After developing the first leprosy vaccine in the world that was launched last year, renowned professor and scientist G.P. Talwar has claimed that trials of birth control vaccine developed by him have shown very positive response and he is hopeful that it would get approval of all government regulatory bodies.
Speaking to this newspaper, Prof. Talwar said, “People thought I have gone weird when I planned to work on the birth control vaccine. The general perception is that vaccines should be developed only for infectious disease. However, that did not deter me from carrying this project. The vaccine would not only prevent pregnancy for over a year, but also improve the cancer resistance power.”
This safe and effective contraceptive targets the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone, which in turn produces hormone progesterone, which is necessary to prepare the uterus to receive the embryo. This vaccine blocks hCG and ensures termination of pregnancy,” he added.
The vaccine will overcome limitations of present-day contraceptives, which have undesired side-effects like menstrual irregularity and breeding. The vaccine would not harm the ovary anyway. The idea is based on the hormone which plays an important role in the regulation of fertility.
High level of hCG is an early signal of conception and the reason for targeting it for immune contraception is that its inactivation would not affect other physiological process in women. He, however, refused to divulge further details regarding his birth control vaccine project.
“I did not know anything about leprosy when I wanted to work on it. A WHO team wanted me to head a research and immunology centre years ago. A team member of the WHO asked me why though the prevalence of leprosy is high in India, no one is coming forward to develop vaccines for it. I just felt ashamed listening to that question and determined to take up a vaccine project for leprosy,” the scientist said.
Studies carried out in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha gave him and his team the required insight as how to develop the vaccine. “I spent two summer vacations in AP as fresh leprosy cases were being reported then. Though it took about 11 years for the research and other official formalities, I am happy that the vaccine was successful at last. The vaccine not only prevents, but also treats patients. Many people have been cured with the vaccine now,” he said. He, however, pointed out that drugs were vital for the treatment of leprosy.