While most teens are finishing their High School Diploma, The Knowledge Society students Simran Saxena and Diba Dindous have been working on creating Male Contraceptives Pills
Collision is filled with innovative technology and is one of the fastest growing technology conferences in North America. From start-ups, NFTS, Medtech, and even Male Contraceptives Pills. We had the opportunity to chat with high school students Simran and Diba from the Knowledge society on how they are planning to create the ever changing Male Contraceptives Pills.
What knowledge society does and how did you guys get started?
The knowledge society is a program for students that are 13-17 , think of it as an olympic global training program, but instead of olympics, and athletes, but its for people who want to change the world and solve the most pressing problems. We met at the knowledge society and we joined when we were 15, so two years ago and we both joined, cause we both love medicine and bio tech field. If I can be one of the people to help improve the quality of life of people i’ve always wanted to do that. Joining this program gave us exposure to these evolving technologies like AI, BlockChain, Quantum computing, and all of these cool technologies and we got to build project with those.
What is the main project you guys are working on ?
One day Diba and I were sitting down and we were looking at female contraceptives and side effects and we were having a discussion on that. When we were looking at other female options we saw they had 11 options to choose from and with males there’s only two. Less options for men and it just did not make sense. So Diba and I started working on Male Contraceptives Pills. We identified this protein, RAR-a (Retinoic acid receptor alpha) Alpha and it’s really important in spermatogenesis. Think of it like an on and off switch, if you turn it off you can stop sperm production for a period of time. Because we’re targeting sperm production instead of testosterone, this is a non hormonal approach. If you’re manipulating Testosterone or hormones it tends to affect well being , lifestyle and it can have side effects like depression, anxiety, weight gain, nausea, etc. I think the main thing we’re doing is to repurpose already existing drug. So there is a database is of 20,000 already approved drugs and what we’re doing is computationally screening each one of them against that protein to see if it can turn it off. And then we’re gonna be working at the University of Minnesota Medicinal chemistry lab and going from there. Drug development takes a very long time, it can take from 10-16 years and it costs 1.24 billion dollars on average and that’s one of the reasons why we don’t have a male pill yet. One of the ways we can reduce the time of development is taking drug repurposing around, taking a FDA approved drug and finding a new use for it. It requires less testing and has a different route of regulation.
What does a typical day in the life look like?
Diba– I’m not an early morning person, I wake up around 7:30, then I go to school, then during my lunch hour I have meetings with people, mentors, etc. Then school goes to about 4, on days I have band I stay till 6, otherwise I go home and I want to get my school stuff out of way. Then I work on the project that Sim and I have, so like we do research, we call each other, we talk everyday. Then I sleep very late around 11pm , I need like 9 hours of sleep, and I usually read a book before bed. I also read fiction books, I started working on a novel too, a fantasy novel.
Simran- I wake up a lot earlier than Diba, I wake up like 5:30am. I stare at the ceiling for 10 mins and contemplate life, set my goals, I get up and work out for like 30- 45 minutes. I like to raisin bread in the morning, then I read a nice comfortable book, then I go to school from 8:17am -2:20pm then I go home. Shorter day than Diba. Then I get home then work on the Male Contraceptives Pills, and other times I do research, coding, depends on the day. Then at like 7 sometimes I eat dinner with my family , sometimes I don’t. Then I sing, I sing professionally, my secret hobby. I released a single in November, It’s called Postcard and it’s on Youtube. I also love to write, lyrics and poems.
What advice would you give to someone who’s trying to be an entrepreneur?
Simran: Just when you’re about to give don’t do it and stay a little longer. For us the science was really hard, and it was really hard, but with the support of each other with our directors and stuff we realize things are really hard a lot of time and to get through the time when we’re about to give up but we stay a little longer like I couldn’t recommend it enough . Even at Collision sometimes the best conversations you have are at the end , it’s so easy to give up. And keep a work life balance, you need to sleep, to socialize, to exercise and that comes from time blocking your day. And the mindset of living in the moment, then you can take advantage of the one hour you’re working and living in the moment in that
To learn more about the process of the Male Contraceptive Pills or Simran and Diba, visit their website here
[Interview by Vanessa C. and Millie G.]