The study conducted by scientists from University of Iowa in collaboration with Iranian researchers from the University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences in Tehran was focused on genetic causes of deafness in Iranian families. Surprisingly, scientists discovered mutations in a gene called CATSPER1 that was previously linked to male infertility in mice. The genetic abnormality was found in two Iranian families diagnosed with male infertility.
The research showed that CATSPER1 mutations lead to the production of either a shortened version of the protein or lack of protein, which affects sperm motility. Michael Hildebrand, Ph.D. at the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, the leading author of the study said that this discovery may lead to new infertility treatments and can be used to develop effective male birth control method with minimum side effects.
Currently, there are few male birth control methods that can be used to prevent unwanted pregnancy. Condom is widely used birth control that can protect against STD's and unintended pregnancy. Vasectomy is a permanent male birth control method that works by preventing the release of sperm during ejaculation.
One of the new approaches in male contraception is immunocontraception. This method is based on the creation of antibodies that can bind the necessary protein and undermine its function. Immunocontraception is under development and has a potential to become safe and reversible male birth control.