UNC awarded $100K to develop male contraception method via ultrasound

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Two researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are the recipients of a $100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for their health research project aimed at the development of a male contraceptive method.

James Tsuruta, PhD, assistant professor in the laboratories for reproductive biology at the department of pediatrics and Paul Dayton, PhD, associate professor and director of graduate studies in the department of biomedical engineering, will work on the creation of a long term, reversible male contraception method using ultrasound.

According to the researchers, ultrasound from therapeutic instruments--commonly found in sports medicine or physical therapy clinics--can be used to deplete testicular sperm.

Tsuruta and Dayton have conducted successful pilot studies of the method and will now work to fine-tune this technique, said Grand Challenges Explorations, a five-year, $100 million initiative of the Gates Foundation to promote global health.

“Our long-term goal is to use ultrasound…as an inexpensive, long-term, reversible male contraceptive suitable for use in [both] developing [and] first-world countries,” said Tsuruta. "[T]his could provide men with up to six months of reliable, low-cost, non-hormonal contraception from a single round of treatment.”

According to the Gates Foundation, Tsuruta and Dayton’s project is one of 78 grants awarded, and grants were provided to scientists in 18 countries worldwide.