Our goal is to use therapeutic ultrasound instruments commonly found in physical therapy and sports medicine clinics as the basis for a long-term, reversible male contraceptive.
Pictured above are an untreated seminiferous tubule (left) and a seminiferous tubule taken from a rat testis two weeks after being treated with ultrasound (right). The untreated tubule contains many developing spermatogenic cells and has a layer of testicular sperm near the small, central lumen. The ultrasound treated tubule is clearly depleted of developing spermatogenic cells, has a large lumen and contains no testicular sperm.
"Ultrasound as a long-term, reversible male contraceptive."
A Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Explorations grant.
Traditionally, men wishing to share responsibility for family planning have had few choices available to them. The long range goal of this project is to provide men with a safe, reversible method of contraception that is reliable enough to deploy in first world countries yet robust enough to use in developing nations.
The immediate goals of this Grand Challenges Explorations are to (1) use an animal model to determine the "minimum effective dose" of therapeutic ultrasound that induces a reversible contraceptive effect; (2) begin to determine if repeated use of ultrasound on the testes causes any cumulative damage to the testis and (3) design a prototype apparatus using commercially available therapeutic ultrasound instruments to accommodate future trials in primates or humans, paying special attention to making it inexpensive, simple & robust enough to operate in developing countries.
This is a cross-disciplinary project at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill involving the Laboratories for Reproductive Biology (UNC) and the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering (UNC/NCSU).
Project update (2013-01-16): The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has reviewed our Phase II application to continue this project. The Foundation has decided to focus their funding on "female-controlled" methods of contraception and will not continue to fund male contraception research projects. We thank the Grand Challenges Explorations grant program and the Parsemus Foundation for their funding which enabled us to publish a manuscript in Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology that is considered "highly accessed" and presents many of our findings.
We hope to secure funding from other sources to continue research into the utility of therapeutic ultrasound as a contraceptive.
Thanks for visiting the site and for all your expressions of support for this line of research!
James Tsuruta, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
The Laboratories for Reproductive Biology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The Laboratories for Reproductive Biology is a division of the Department of Pediatrics in the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
James Tsuruta, PhD., is the Principal Investigator of the project and is pictured in the first row (fourth from the right, grey shirt).
The Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) is an academic department co-located at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and NC State University and was established on December 1, 2003, linking the School of Medicine at UNC-CH to the College of Engineering at NC State. Paul Dayton, PhD., is a co-Principal Investigator of the project and is also the Director of Graduate Studies for the BME department.