Development of canine contraceptives

Roaming overpopulation of dogs and cats is a leading concern here in the US and in many other countries across the world. Unfortunately, control of animal population is frequently based on euthanasia and surgical sterilization. To date, several alternative contraceptive methods have been proposed with limited success.  On the other hand, while surgical sterilization is an effective mean to control and prevent reproduction, it is expensive and requires specialized equipment and qualified personnel. Our lab, in collaboration with the nanotechnology scientists of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering of UIUC, is developing an alternative contraceptive method with the use of nanoparticles to deplete ovarian follicular population and endometrial gland development. Four-vynilcyclohexene diepoxide (VCD) is well-known toxicant with capabilities to affect small pre-antral follicle population when given at repeated doses. Additionally, progesterone when given at high and repeated doses early in life is well-documented to affect the endometrial gland development and function, thus inducing infertility. Therefore, using nanotechnology we are working on delivering systems and chemical formulations to induce infertility using mice as a model with the utmost goal to use in roaming dogs and cats.  Nonetheless, as part of my research training, I have ongoing studies evaluating the interactions of the progesterone receptor (Pgr) and estrogen receptor alpha (Esr1) and the reproductive phenotype of Esr1-Pgr knocked out mice.  Particularly, we have been focused on evaluating the individual and collective roles of Esr1 and Pgr on ovulation.