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Engineered antibodies trap and immobilize human sperm in the reproductive tract of female sheep, paving the way for possible use as a nonhormonal contraceptive in people.

Currently, most available birth control options are barrier methods or rely on hormones to prevent fertilization of an egg—both of which have drawbacks, such as discomfort or side effects, that make them less than ideal for some people. Enter antisperm antibodies, described in a study published today (August 11) in Science Translational MedicineResearchers generated antibodies that recognize an antigen unique to human sperm. When delivered topically to the reproductive tracts of sheep, the antibodies successfully bound and trapped more than 99.9 percent of introduced human sperm. Some of the authors have spun out a company, Mucommune, in order to continue the development of contraceptives based on these antibodies.

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