New Device Could Improve Fertility Treatment


Waseem Asghar, Ph.D.

New Device Could Improve Fertility Treatment

Researchers from FAU’s College of Engineering and Computer Science recently developed a new sperm sorting device that could assist those struggling with infertility — at a lower cost.

The device — a microfluidic chip — is fast, inexpensive, easy to operate and efficiently isolates healthy sperm directly from semen, according to Waseem Asghar, Ph.D., senior author of the study, and associate professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. The semen is loaded into a chamber and the competent sperm swim against fluid flow toward a collecting chamber. This process allows for effortless collection of healthy sperm, while minimizing contamination by deformed or dead sperm cells, Asghar said.

Assisted reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization, intrauterine insemination and intracytoplasmic sperm injection — when the sperm are injected directly into the egg — all require healthy sperm cells for a successful outcome. Current sperm sorting methods require multiple steps, multiple types of equipment and take about two hours to isolate sperm cells. These methods also damage sperm during processing.

Results of the study, published in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s journal Analyst, showed that sperm cells isolated from the collecting chamber in this microfluidic chip had several characteristics that would produce better fertility outcomes. This includes higher motility, or the ability to move properly; a higher number of normal cells; and less DNA fragmentation.

“This chip offers a one-step, one-hour operational benefit, which requires minimal training,” Asghar said. “Moreover, this technology will considerably reduce the economic burden of fertility implementations, and both the chip and the sperm cells isolated from it offer great clinical significance and applicability.”

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