Scientists have made several preliminary breakthroughs in developing a male contraceptive, and though birth control for men has found little traction with big pharmaceutical companies, the current studies could pave the way for alternatives to condoms and vasectomies.

Michigan State University scientists announced last week that they have discovered a way to turn off the gene that controls sperm production in mice, research that could be applied to developing male birth control for humans.

Mice and humans share many of the same reproduction genes, and the gene editing method lays the groundwork for human male contraception, Newsweek reported.

A team led by Chen Chen, an animal science professor at MSU, used CRISPR/Cas9 technology to produce genetically-modified mice lacking a genetic trimmer that is essential to the sperm development process.

The study, funded in part by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), was published in Nature Communications.

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