Guided by a directional movement known as free movement, sperm cells swim upstream of cervical mucus to reach the egg for fertilization. However, this journey is even more important when considering the issue of infertility.
In the United States, an estimated 15% of couples have difficulty conceiving. Globally, about 48.5 million couples are infertile.
All infertility treatment costs can range from $5,000 to $73,000. An estimated 85% of IVF costs are usually out-of-pocket.
Assisted reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), intrauterine insemination, and intracytoplasmic sperm injection all require healthy sperm cells for successful results.
Current centrifugation methods for sperm sorting require multiple steps, various types of equipment, and take about two hours to isolate sperm cells. These methods damage spermatozoa during processing and cause significant DNA fragmentation and oxidative stress.
A new study published in the journal Analyst of the Royal Society of Chemistryshowed that sperm cells isolated from the collection chamber in this microfluidic chip had significantly higher motility (almost 100%), higher number of morphologically normal cells, and DNA fragmentation. significantly lower, which is an important parameter for fertilization.
“Operating our chip is very easy. Once the semen is loaded into the sample inlet chamber, the competent sperm cells begin to move upstream of the fluid towards the collection chamber from where they can easily be collected.“, said Waseem Asghar, PhD, senior author, an associate professor in FAU’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
What’s more, this chip offers the benefit of one-step, hour-long operation, which operators can use with minimal training. The study also confirms that rheological regulation selects stronger, motile and higher velocity sperm cells for fertilization..
The technology will also greatly reduce the economic burden of performing fertility, and both the chip and the sperm cells isolated from it offer great clinical significance and applicability.